On May 25th, 1977 the original Star Wars film was released to an unsuspecting public and would go on to become one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of all time. Not even the creator, George Lucas had any inkling what would happen in the following weeks, months and years as his low budget Flash Gordon-esque space opera changed the world.
There’s so much history about Star Wars, and so many people who have regurgitated it better than I, that I’m not going to write about that. I’m just going to write about my experience growing up with Star Wars and how it has affected my life.
One of my very first memories as a child is sitting in the house I grew up in on a green shag carpeted living room floor in front of a big wood-encased television and seeing a trailer for the original Star Wars. The one line and scene that sticks out specifically to me is when Luke Skywalker rushes in to save Princess Leia and removes his Stormtrooper helmet and exclaims: “I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you!”
Something about that struck a chord in me and has never let go.
I never actually got to go see the original Star Wars in the theater. I was only 2 when it came out and so I didn’t see my first Star Wars movie in the theater until 1983 when Return of the Jedi was released. Like a lot of kids my age I saw Star Wars for the first time on home video.
It wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back came out that I really became fascinated with Star Wars – and was old enough to even register what was going on.
Each Christmas I would get Star Wars toys and it seemed that all my friends and I did was play Star Wars either with our action figures, vehicles and playsets, or by picking up a couple of sticks and making the lightsaber sounds with our mouths as we battled like Obi-Wan and Vader on the Death Star or Luke and Vader on Cloud City.
Star Wars became a huge part of my life and as my parents will attest to, I was a little obsessed.
My dad knew the owner of a local video store in the town I grew up in and he had him record both Star Wars & Empire on to a VHS tape for me. I played that tape to death! I in fact still have it to this day. I watched that tape so much that I can still recite just about every line verbatim from both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
So from about 1977 until 1985 I was all about Star Wars. I had a huge toy collection (which I regrettably later sold off in my 20’s) – everything from the Millennium Falcon & the Ewok Village to most of the original action figures and even the Imperial Shuttle. But, as what happens with most kids, I eventually started to grow up and lose interest.
While it was still ingrained in my brain – and always would be – eventually I moved on to other toys (G.I. Joe, He-Man & Transformers replaced my Star Wars obsession around ’85). My Millennium Falcon became a G.I. Joe base, Stormtroopers became Cobra operatives and I stripped a lot of my playsets and vehicles for random parts to make for new and interesting battles with Transformers.
Once I hit Junior High I was done with toys. They all got boxed up and put in the barn and I pretty much forgot about them as I started dealing with more important things – girls. Such is the life of most boys.
Puberty strips us of the care-free and simple life of fantasy and adventure and turns us in to hormone riddled, angsty teenagers.
So life went on. As I mentioned previously, I eventually sold all of my Star Wars toys in my 20’s because I thought; why would I ever want these?
How naive I was.
While Star Wars was always a touchstone for me and something that I took with me throughout the rest of my life, for a long time it wasn’t a focus or really on my radar most of the time. It was something from childhood that resonated, but only as fond memories.
When the Special Editions of the original trilogy came out I was excited. I would get to see the original Star Wars on the big screen and experience what I had missed out on as a kid.
Unfortunately the Special Edition version of the film was terrible and even though I went to watch all 3 of the Special Edition films, it kind of turned me off to Star Wars.
It was the same way with the prequels. I went to see them, but each time I felt let down and discouraged and really felt that Star Wars was in its death throes by the time Revenge of the Sith hit home video.
The magic was gone.
And so I moved on and didn’t think about it too much. It was always there in my mind, and I would go back and watch the original trilogy every once in awhile, or talk with friends about Star Wars, but it wasn’t a predominant part of my life until a few years ago.
In 2013 I saw something on the internet about Star Wars that piqued my interest. I think it was some article talking about vintage Star Wars merchandise, and one of the things they mentioned were original Star Wars curtains. For some reason I got a wild hair up my ass that I had to have a set of these vintage curtains and so I took to ebay to find some. I did, and when I got them it triggered something in me and next thing I know I’m on ebay looking at old Star Wars toys.
It was the Millennium Falcon that really kicked off my renewed interest in Star Wars when I won an auction for a vintage Falcon in the original box. When it arrived I was shocked to see it hadn’t even been used. It was pearly white (most of the vintage Falcons have developed a yellowish hue to the plastic) and none of the stickers had even been applied. It was as if I had bought it off the shelf in 1980.
After that I started buying loose vintage action figures which eventually led me to buying original mint-on-card figures. From there I started collecting Star Wars again and have since amassed quite a large collection of memorabilia ranging from toys and books to board games and promotional items.
The magic was back!
It was really the nostalgia of it all that drew me in and in a sense collecting the vintage stuff was in some way reigniting my childhood.
Along the way I’ve got to do some pretty cool stuff. I worked on a Star Wars fan project called ‘The Kenobi Chronicles‘ where we got to work with the 501st San Francisco Garrison. We went to Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA to promote the project. It was my first Celebration experience and I loved it.
I got married and not only incorporated Star Wars elements in to the wedding, but we actually had a couple of Stormtroopers from the 501st be a part of the wedding ceremony!
I even wrote a Star Wars script!
I’ve met a lot of cool people who share my love for Star Wars and overall it’s been a very positive impact on my life. At times I think about how odd it seems to be so influenced by some movies from my childhood – but it’s become so much more than that. Not only to me, but to so many other people across the planet.
It’s been one helluva journey and it’s all culminated to this point in time where I’m writing a blog about my love for Star Wars all these years later.
Things have come full circle in a way. I feel like I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I feel content. I’m 42 years old, I have a beautiful wife who is my best friend, I enjoy my job (most of the time) and I get to celebrate a part of my life that has been with me from the beginning.
It’s almost as if Star Wars was always there waiting for me to re-discover it again when I was ready. And now that I have I can honestly say that it’s made my life richer and fuller having something I’m so passionate about and that I dearly love – just like when I was a kid.
So here’s to 40 years of Star Wars, and to 40 more. I hope I live long enough to celebrate the 80 year anniversary.
May the Force be with you, always!
Listen to me talk Star Wars with my friends over at The Geek Speak Show for their special 40th Anniversary podcast!