Gus Lopez

Star Wars has always been a major part of my life, even in 1977...

Here's a photo of me circa 1979.

I grew up in Summit, New Jersey, near New York City. The nearest theater showing Star Wars was quite a distance away, but I made the trip several times in 1977 to see that amazing motion picture.

When Star Wars was first released, I bought whatever was available. There wasn't very much to buy at first: posters, trading cards, puzzles, and this weird envelope thing from Kenner called the Early Bird Kit.

My first Star Wars action figures

Eventually, the toys started arriving, and I saved every spare penny earned from my paper route to pay for all of the action figures, vehicles, and playsets as they were released. The photo above contains some shots of the entire Star action figure toy line in mid 1978. I was all caught up then, but ever since the Jawa Sandcrawler came out, I haven't been able to keep pace with Kenner!

My room

My bedroom had a contemporary Star Wars motif that was typical of the period. Note the Sears Cantina Adventure Set and Early Bird Stand (and of course, my Panosonic 8-track tape player).

That original Hildebrandt poster still looks as stunning today as it did over 20 years ago. It has always been one of my favorite Star Wars paintings.

My first chance to meet the Star Wars "cast"

Around the time Star Wars was released, I read in a local newspaper that Chewbacca, C-3P0, and Darth Vader were going to appear at a local car dealership one Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, my parents weren't thrilled about taking me out there, so I decided to ride my bike 20 miles to this dealership out in the middle of nowhere.

Don Post is Darth Vader

Once they appeared, it was obvious to anyone that these weren't the original cast members as they were wearing Don Post masks and homemade outfits. This was rather lame considering the long bike ride I endured. (The honor of meeting David Prowse and Peter Mayhew would have to wait until 18 years later, which was fortunate as I was then old enough to drive to Los Angeles to see them). On the positive side, I did win a prize at the car dealer's drawing, even though the prize was a lousy poster I already owned. My friend, Dave Formichella, managed to win the MECO Star Wars Album--I was so envious. Dave and I co-wrote a Star Wars newsletter in 1977 that we distributed to kids at school (don't tell Lucasfilm--they would have found our newsletter very threatening competition). I've been writing about Star Wars ever since then. You can see samples of our newsletter here and here.

That wasn't the only time I biked long distances for Star Wars during that period. On some occasions I rode dozens of miles out to movie theaters to see the first two movies (I was old enough to drive by the time Return of the Jedi was released). On one occasion, I biked a long distance to the nearest Toys R Us to buy the Kenner Millennium Falcon. I went in the store, picked up the piece, but after I walked out, I then realized there was no way I was going to get home carrying this thing on my bike rack.

Suzanne Lopez

One Halloween, my sister, Suzanne decided to borrow my blaster for her Princess Leia costume. She undid her Leia cinnamon roll hair buns before this photo was taken. Suzanne now lives in Chicago and is a dancer for the Joffrey Ballet. During one of the Joffrey's tours of San Francisco, George Lucas invited the ballet company to Skywalker Ranch for a party. Suzanne met Lucas and had a photo taken with him to remember the event.

George and Suzanne

My brother, Victor, was into Star Wars but didn't like to show it, so I have no embarrassing (Star Wars-related) photos of him (although I think he would have looked good in a Yoda ears cap).

Gus Jedi Knight

My siblings weren't the only ones in the family to help the Rebel Alliance. Here I am wielding my "Force Beam" lightsaber (an unlicensed Star Wars knockoff that was orders of magnitude better than Kenner's impotent inflatable lightsaber).

Since I lived and breathed Star Wars every second of the day, my family hoped I would someday outgrow it. I saved every single piece of Star Wars memorabilia I bought during those early years. I've picked up a few more things since 1977, some of which you can see on this web page I created.