As with any obsession, more is better.
That was how I felt about Star Wars and I didn’t care how, like Anakin I wanted more.
First of all, toys. And my first ever Star Wars toy was a C-3PO ‘Bendems’ figure. It came with a collectable Trading Card from Topps and I loved it. I got as many as I could get my hands on, each with a trading card. My collection was growing and I hadn’t even realised. Then Christmas ’95 something happened that changed my life forever.
Power of the Force Action Figures.
My face lit up like a thousand Christmas Trees when I ripped open the wrapping paper to find an X-Wing toy. The wings opened up. It made sounds. And you could put a figure inside. I tried to stick my bendems Luke Skywalker in (one of the two I owned, the first ones hand came off and I refused to get rid of it due to screen accuracy) but he was too big.
A day or two later, my parents took me on the obligatory post Christmas ‘spend your money’ trip. To Toys R Us we went and I got myself a Luke Skywalker, a Darth Vader and to complement the X-Wing in my imaginary dog fights, the TIE Fighter.
Who cared that Luke looked like a He-Man reject and the Lightsabers were ridiculously out of proportion? Not me. I could finally tell my imaginary Star Wars tales with five points of articulation and we’re less likely to tear if bent in the wrong way.
Over the years the collection grew. Pocket money was thrown to Hasbro in droves, I had to have them all. Luke faced Vader often and always on a high ledge, provided by my removing a shelf from its brackets and using them as a battle platform. The only one I couldn’t find for years was the Stormtrooper, which I remedied years later when I got the Luke in Stormtrooper disguise and never took the helmet off. Easy.
It wasn’t just the toys that had captured my imagination. I had also heard, from my older sisters Uni roommate that there were Star Wars books.
Now, as a kid, I was a big reader. And not to toot my own horn but I read at a higher level than my peers. Sure I was a fan of the age appropriate fare, such as Goosebumps but I was also starting to read longer, more adult fiction. My greatest achievement in reading at the time was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. So after some pleading with my folks I was granted permission (I was 9 at the time) to traverse the ever expanding Star Wars Universe. The first books I got were the novelisation of A New Hope by George Lucas (ghost written by Alan Dean Foster) and Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.
I completed Zahn’s Empire trilogy and jumped into Kevin J Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy. This was phenomenal. New stories. New worlds. New characters. Wow, just… wow.
In early ’97 I picked up the paperback of Shadows of the Empire. My original plan was to complete the Young Han Solo Trilogy by A C Crispin but something about Shadows drew me away. Xixor. I had got the action figure the previous Christmas in a 2 pack with Darth Vader (with a proportionate lightsaber) as well as the Millennium Falcon and AT-ST, and so I put my education about Han Solo’s history on one side (still not finished the trilogy) to read the connective tissue between Empire and Jedi.
It was also during this shopping trip that I learned an incredible thing.
The Star Wars Trilogy was coming back to cinemas.