A long time ago in a toy box far, far away...
As a young urchin in the 1970s, when I wasn’t risking radiation poisoning and a diabetic coma from sitting too close to the TV with an enormous bowl of Fruity Pebbles, I could usually be found in my room playing with my official Kenner Star Wars toys. These memories recently came flooding back like a river of Tang Instant Breakfast Drink when my dad bequeathed to me two large Sterilite storage containers chock-full of my old Star Wars toys that had been fermenting in his attic for the past few decades.
I still remember being 7 years old and waiting in line with my parents and big brother to see the first Star Wars movie—that’s “Episode IV: A New Hope” to all of my fellow dweebazoids out there. Although I’m pretty sure I went to sleep at some point during the film, Chewbacca’s luxuriant fur coat and Princess Leia’s cinnamon bun hairdo (among her other features) made a permanent impression on me.
As soon as Kenner released their original wave of toys, including a fully endowed Leia, I succumbed to the injected-plastic side of the force. I eventually had the complete set of characters, and when the sequel came out, along with more toys, I was a hopeless Jedi junkie, blowing every cent of my Tooth-Fairy cash on action figures. My dad was even enlisted in my obsession, touring the retail establishments of the greater East Texas area in search of the elusive Tauntaun—an alien creature from “The Empire Strikes Back” that looks like the love child of the GEICO hump day camel and Rex from “Toy Story.”
My prized possession during those years was the original Millennium Falcon toy, complete with a battery-powered button that made a sound like the ship had an embarrassing case of gas. However, the legendary Falcon, like so many of my other vulnerable playthings, fell victim to a power more sinister than Emperor Palpatine himself—namely my dearly departed toy poodle, Fluff. Along with savagely dismembering several of my action figures, Fluff inflicted singular abuse upon the Falcon.
On one fateful afternoon when I had docked the Falcon on my bedroom floor without its canopy lid, Fluff raised his leg and scored a direct hit right inside the main cargo hold and lounge. Fortunately, I was able to de-funk the ship with a little Pine Action Lysol, and any residual damage actually added to its battle-tested appearance.
Despite the random canine vandalism and general deterioration from the ravages of time (and not just on me), I’ve had a great time reliving my boyhood by refurbishing my Star Wars collection. The restoration process began by washing the toys in our seldom-used, off-brand whirlpool tub. I actually considered getting in the bath with them to play for old times’ sake, but with the vast numbers of plastic figures, parts, and pieces floating around in there, I worried I might accidentally give myself a Stormtrooper suppository.
I now have the toys on display in my nerd nook at home, and I’m busily spending my three daughters’ college savings on eBay purchasing replacement stickers, spaceship parts, and even the rare Yoda cloak—since Fluff undoubtedly digested the original sometime during the Carter administration. Occasionally my wife catches me just standing there and staring wistfully at the toys, making “Pew! Pew!” laser sounds under my breath.
At those times, she just smiles, shakes her head a little, and goes to the kitchen to mix me up a tall glass of Tang.