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Star Wars for the Next Generation
April 1, 2005
by Michael Walls

Like every kid that grew up in the late ‘70s, Star Wars was the greatest movie I had ever seen. I remember the first time I saw the movie trailer on television – spaceships, laser battles, robots, swords made of light, and a giant ape-like creature flying a wicked cool spaceship. It looked amazing.

Up to that point, we had all seen Star Trek’s studio version of life in outer space on television. People dressed in colorful or shiny space outfits or tight-fitting jumpsuits. Planet surfaces littered with rock-colored styrofoam boulders and aliens that looked mostly human except for some rubberized adjustments to their ears or nose.

Star Trek was fun, but Star Wars was something completely different. It was so beyond anything we had ever seen, it made the imagination soar – especially for younger kids. I was 9 years old when I saw Star Wars in the movie theatre in 1977, and then proceeded to spend the next several years collecting anything “Star Wars” – models, toys, comic books, posters, trading cards.

It was a bit of a phenomenon how Star Wars affected kids back then. I’m not sure if there’s anything in present day to compare it to, except maybe the Pixar films, such as The Incredibles or Finding Nemo. The difference nowadays is that kids don’t have time to marvel and appreciate the technology of such films, as the studios look to capitalize on their success with the next big blockbuster – lest their competitors swoop down and steal away their thunder.

When Star Wars came out, the special effects were nearly light years ahead of their time. Nothing even came close for years after. Even today, while the process is more advanced, the special effects from Lucas’ films are still the standard by which others are compared.

Now, after more than 25 years since I first saw Star Wars in a movie theatre, my own kids are beginning to get caught up in the Star Wars hype.

With the upcoming release of the final Star Wars movie, the merchandisers and marketers are targeting kids with images of Obi Wan Kenobi and Adakin Skywalker, as well as the return of C-3PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca.

So before my kids became brainwashed with the new Stars Wars propaganda, I picked up the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD – and over one long weekend, sat with my two boys and watched the entire trilogy. I was curious how they would react – if they would be as mesmerized as I was when I first saw Star Wars. My boys are a lot younger than I was, but they’ve also seen a lot more movies than I had, and are far more familiar with technology and special effects.

My youngest didn’t have much interest. But my oldest son was fascinated and watched every minute with me. He even had me replay his favorite scenes throughout the following week. (Which included the big battle scene at the end of Star Wars, the snow walkers scene at the beginning of Empire, and the Ewoks battle from Jedi.)

He has embraced all of the icons and terminology that I did as a kid – such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, light sabers and Jedi knights, X-Wing and Tie fighters.

Recently, he was very excited to show me a Star Wars trading card he found in his box of Corn Flakes. It was a picture of a young Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The card triggered a memory of something and I quickly scurried up to the attic and spent a good twenty minutes sifting through boxes labeled “Michael’s Stuff”. Sure enough, I came across what I probably thought would be stored away for ever.

I came downstairs and presented to my son a shoebox full of Star Wars trading cards, and an unopened X-Wing Fighter model, both of which are 25 years old.

The trading cards, dated 1977, were from bubblegum packs that came in various color-coded sets – red, blue, green, orange and yellow. Each card, which featured a scene from Star Wars, was also a piece of a puzzle (on the backside) that required all cards from the color-coded set to complete. Unfortunately, my collection only contains a handful from each set. But my son enjoyed them anyhow.

The unopened X-Wing Fighter model was discovered in my parents’ attic several years earlier, apparently a forgotten birthday or Christmas present from 1977. So I took it home – thinking it might fetch a pretty penny as a collector’s item someday.

My son was really excited about the model and insisted on building it immediately. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I guess I secretly always wanted to build it, but figured a 30-something adult isn’t suppose to build models that specify for “ages 8-12”. So, instead of selling it on Ebay for $20, I spent a Saturday afternoon building Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter with my kids.

Of course, while we waited for the glue to dry, we had to watch Star Wars again, for the hundredth time. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be sharing the Star Wars experience with my kids. But seeing the longevity of these films – chances are my kids might be doing the same thing with their kids in 25 years.

(Michael Walls is a staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine and will only consider offers over $200 for the trading cards and completed X-wing fighter model. Please note, the X-wing fighter has been painted green and purple and most of the guns have been snapped off.)

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