Phoning

So, when exactly do you think Lucas lost his mind?

Yesterday I wrote this. I basically talked about what I’d do if handed the task of redefining the prequels. This sparked a
conversation with a friend about just following something blindly – not religion (besides, I don’t consider faith blind, more on that later) – but specifically dealing with Star Wars.

I remember the exact moment when I stopped believing in Star Wars blindly. I don’t remember the exact date per se, but I do remember the exact moment.

TIE Pilot

The big gun doubles as a crutch.

It was in 1996. Kenner/Hasbro had just launched a whole new set of Star Wars figures. I found a whole bunch at the Wal-Mart in Ft. Walton Beach. That should have been my first clue – hundreds of figures on the shelves. I had a cart, and I was putting two of everything into the cart. I remember looking into the cart and realizing that what I was doing – at that specific moment – was the same thing thousands of other Star Wars Fans were doing at the same time.

Hording. “Collecting.” Stockpiling.

And I definitely wasn’t the only one. In that store, there were other people doing something similar – at the same time! For some reason, we all thought these were going to be worth something. We all thought that we were going to be able to sell that one figure for hundreds of dollars. We all were looking to capitalize off the popularity. And I’m sure a lot of us were looking for that nostalgia. But I personally couldn’t get very nostalgic when Luke and Han looked more like Hans and Franz.

I still bought a bunch of figures. I still have them. Some are boxed, some are loose. I used the loose ones to decorate my room. They’re neat, but I have no misconceptions that they’re going to be worth anything. I have pretty much taken the idea that they’re all going to be worth less than what I paid. As in, I probably couldn’t give them away.

Bendems.

And you thought Jar Jar was a bad idea.

There was nothing even remotely nostalgic about these toys. They didn’t feel magical. They didn’t look magical. Sure, the 70’s version of Luke and Vader were far from “screen accurate,” but they had that magic that enabled little boys and girls to use their imagination and pretend that Luke could bend his elbows and that Vader could slash his saber without looking like he was strapped to a board. Telescoping sabers were fantastic – you really couldn’t lose one unless you really tried. What we ended up with were pieces of plastic that would adorn some geeks wall as a tribute to his “fanhood.”

That’s not to say that the Star Wars toys now aren’t fantastic – they are. Marvels. I found one of the HUGE Millennium Falcons on clearance at Wal-Mart once. It’s magnificent. The new AT-AT looks to be just as awesome. But to me, at least, they don’t have that magic.

The one thing that really dealt a blow to my ‘faith’ had to be the Bend’ems. This were little rubbery figures that you could shape and move. They also said they were “collectable,” (they meant collectible) which really was a slap in the face. There was nothing worth saving with these things. No craftsmanship. Not even reasonably attractive. The original Kenner figures were far more attractive, even with only 4 sometimes 5 points of articulation.

Sam I am. Hot Damn.

I can't believe I bought a Mace Windu Bend'em.

But because I’m not into the gluttony of “collecting” Star Wars, it doesn’t preclude me from still loving what I loved originally. I can respect a fan’s opinion, and I can respect the different aspects of Star Wars that someone may be into. What I can’t respect is the sad devotion to an ancient religion collection. No one is above reproach. Even Lucas, who has bestowed upon us arguably the most influential movie in the 20th century, is not above skepticism.

At the end of the day, I owe Lucas a huge amount of gratitude for giving me access to what I consider to be the greatest thing a young boy could ever dream of. I owe him gratitude. I don’t keep gratitude in my wallet.

The moral of the story is that it’s okay to enjoy something, but don’t let that appreciation blind you to the bad things. I love Star Wars. I always will, but I don’t let that love trick me into buying everything that has a Star Wars label on it. I love what Lucas birthed into the entertainment world, but I don’t let it blind me. I think it was fantastic that George Lucas gave us his Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean I have to love everything he shoves on us.

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