30 Years Ago...

Posted by Jeff Cope (June 4, 2007, 2:30AM)

Has it really been 30 years since Star Wars hit the big screen? As much as I don't want to believe it (simply because of how old it makes me feel) it really has been thirty years since George Lucas' space fantasy epic changed popular culture forever. 

My first memory of Star Wars is standing outside my brothers house in San Jose, CA washing his car with the front door to the house open. The TV was on and a commercial came on for this movie with spaceships, aliens and lasers called Star Wars. The commerical had me hooked from the get go. I was 11 years old. I couldn't wait to get into the local theater and see it.

My dad took me. While I don't remember the date (it was within the first two weeks of its release, so late May or early June of '77) I remember the day vividly. We went to Century 22 theater and waited in line for 2 hours at least. As the theater dimmed, the curtains parted and the 20th Century Fox theme resonated from those great pre-Dolby surround speakers. To this day, I still asscociate the 20th Century Fox fanfare with Star Wars. They are forever linked in my mind. Then came the pause and those unforgettable words that immediately transported you to another world, "Long, long ago...in a galaxy far, far away" followed by the amazing music of John Williams. I lost my last baby tooth on a Milk Dud at some point during the movie. I think it was during the trash compactor scene...

I wanted the soundtrack before the title scroll ended (it wouldn't come out until December, so I got it for Christmas that year) and, of course, I wanted action figures. I didn't care that I was 11 going on 12 and about to enter Junior High School. Sure, I was supposed to be too old for toys. Little did I know at the time that I would still be buying and collecting Star Wars action figures 30 years later!

The figures couldn't come out fast enough. I learned through an article in the San Jose Mercury News that Kenner would be the company making the toys, so I immediately wrote them a letter to see what they had planned (I was an action figure newshound even back then!) and amazingly they wrote back and sent me a catalog (pictured here) that included pictures of the first twelve figures, Luke's X-Wing, the TIE Fighter and Luke's Lightsaber (with inflateable blade!). It also showed several retail merchandise displays.

I still have that now 30 year old catalog. It, along with my worn copy of the theater program for the movie, are among my most treasured pieces of Star Wars memoribilia.

My life has been full of Star Wars for thirty years from the original movies, to comic books and novels, action figures, video games, the prequel trilogy (which nearly killed my love for the property but ended up just intesifying my love for the original trilogy) and so much more. It really is a part of who I am, and has been for three decades now. That just boggles my mind.

So, it's with great joy that I now watch my 2-1/2 year old daughter, Allie, walk around in the Darth Vader voice changer mask (which I proudly nabbed at Target on clearance for $6) and saying, "Luke, I am your father!". She plays with the Galactic Heroes Vader figure. She's never seen the movies, just snippets here and there that I've shown her. But she knows Vader, Yoda, R-Deetoo (as she calls him) and Princess Leia. It's a lot of fun to watch her take little steps into that galaxy far, far away that Daddy loves so much.

With (at least) two television series coming in the next few years, Hasbro having the Star Wars license until something like 2018 and novels, games and comic books continuing to expand the Star Wars universe it looks like it's going to be a part of my life for the next thirty years. And that's just the way I want it.