Wars for the Next Generation
by Michael Walls
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.)