It’s an interesting phenomenon. It’s birthed multiple generations of fans and along with that, varying nostalgias.
For some, it’s the Original Trilogy that takes them back to their childhood where they’re running around with a flashlight and fittingly forcing their little sister to be Princess Leia.
For others, it’s the Prequels, which is (believe it or not) not all that far from being 2 decades old itself. If you were six when the Phantom Menace came out—you are now 22, either finishing up college or starting out in your career, and you have an entirely different experience and nostalgia with Star Wars than a 40 year old.
As for me- I sort of straddle both worlds. I wasn’t born when A New Hope was released, and I was a Teenager when Phantom Menace came out (which I saw 6 times in the Theater). But, most of my nostalgia comes from the Original Trilogy.
Anyway, my goal was to make a list of the top ten nostalgic Star Wars items that both young and old fans can appreciate. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I already downloaded all the pictures—so y’know, screw it.
Any Star Wars kids worth his salt had a light saber of SOME kind.
Typically these break down into 2 categories.
1. The extending light saber.
The concept is simple- you had your hilt and inside of that hilt was a hollow plastic blade segmented in to 2-3 pieces that when swung, extended out creating a full lightsaber.
2. The light up lightsaber.
This toy already had the blade extended and could not slide down into the hilt- but, with the press of a button it would light up and if you were fortunate enough to own a REALLY fancy one… it made a VRRRMM sound!
Now, there is actually one more category- and it predates both of the previous.
Kenner made a light saber that debuted in 1980 called “The Force” Light Saber. It came in 3 colors: Red, Green and Yellow (don’t ask me why…). It didn’t extended or have any electronic sounds, BUT it was designed to emit a humming noise when swung through the air. Did it sound like a light saber? Nah—but it was enough for kids all over to believe they owned an authentic Jedi weapon.
When Phantom Menace was released there was SO much merchandising, product tie-ins, marketing ploys (of which we’ll talk about a few more before this article is over), one of the major ones was Pepsi.
Now, I’m more of a coke guy myself- but you better believe in the summer of 99, I temporarily made a switch.
There were 24 different cans, not including a special Yoda can that was harder to come by (and if you did- you could redeem it for $20!)
This. The crown jewel for any Star Wars fan. You could have all the Jedi action figures, Millennium Falcon models, Star Wars Nintendo games in the world—but if you didn’t have THE COMPLETE SET OF MOVIES… you were merely frontin’ yo!
There was a box set that came out in 1990- with the fantastic posters as the cover art.
Then in 1997 they brought out the special editions in this VERY sleek Gold (silver for widescreen) box.
As much as I wasn’t a fan of the special edition changes—this box set was pretty freakin’ cool.
STAR WARS STORY BOOKS
Ok, we’re digging deep here guys. As a young and budding geek, there were two places I could really expand and satiate my knowledge and desire of geekery—Either sitting directly in front of our wood chassis Zenith television set OR perusing through the dimly lit, cavernous aisles of my elementary school library.
It’s there where I found them. Tucked between The Silver Chair and Superfudge, The Star Wars Story Books.
Large, thin hardbound picture books with full color screen shots from the movies. If you could go to the Cedar Lake Elementary School library and check the sign out cards from 1988 for these books, you would find line after line, my Hancock filling the cards.
BURGER KING GLASSES
These were AWESOME.
You go to Burger King with your mom, you get a Kids Meal, you eat your burger with a paper crown on your head while studying the meal box with Kid Vid and the other Kids Club members adorning the side.
Then, as you head out- a gleam of light catches your eye. It’s reflecting off a set of glass cups in a display case. You see Luke. You see Vader. Han, Chewie, C3PO and R2! For a measly $1.99 you could be getting kool-aide mustaches in STYLE. You beg. You plead. You attempt to Jedi mind trick your mom.
She tells you “This is the LAST time I take you out for lunch!” as she drags you out of the restaurant.
Only at the end do you realize the power of the Dark Side.
KENNER PLAY SETS
The figures were small, they looked like crap and they had like—2 points of articulation… But, with the power of an 8 year old’s imagination, Luke, Leia, Han and the other characters from the Star Wars universe have had an infinite amount of adventures because of them.
Come on… it’s a spoon that has a light saber hilt and lights up. It’s awesome—even if it is a little masochistic.
Where were the GunSpoons when the Rambo came out?!
STAR WARS VIDEO GAMES
This game… THIS GAME. It set a precedent. Not just for Star Wars games, but for the entire gaming industry. If you didn’t already have an N64– It’s likely you bought one not long after this game came out.
It came with an expansion pack that improved the graphics of the system for the game. Legit.
KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC
But, remember that moment when you realized that you were playing a Star Wars video game that was in fact BETTER than the last 2 Star Wars movies you had seen.
TACO BELL CUP TOPPERS
Taco bell is either actual toxic waste… or mana from heaven– I’m still not quite sure, but what I am sure of is they have great movie tie in deals. One of the greatest merchandises to come out of those deals were the Phantom Menace Cup Toppers. These things were HUGE and actually pretty freakin’ cool.
I mean– who wouldn’t want Sam Jackson staring at you condescendingly from the top of a bucketof Mt. Dew Baja Blast while you shove questionable meat-filled tortillas into your sarlacc.
THE ZAHN NOVELS
It’s a Star Wars book. But what’s this? No pictures… hmm- suspicious.
But, there’s that logo that I’m familiar with. I see some characters I recognize on the cover. Ok, I’ll give it a try… but no promises on finishing this thing—it’s already feeling a bit like work.
HOLY CRAP! This is awesome! New adventures!? I get to see what happened to my heroes AFTER Jedi?! More… MOAHR!!!!!
Well… I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much how it went for me.
So, for a while there—Star Wars popularity really waned. In the late 80’s and early 90’s there wasn’t a lot going on in the franchise. One thing that kept Star Wars alive—was the Extended Universe. A KEY player in the universe was author Timothy Zahn who wrote a bunch of Star Wars novels including the Thrawn Trilogy, which for years was considered canon by fans.
AN HONORABLE MENTION:
STAR WARS TABLE TOP GAMES
OK, I have a confession to make. I never played either one of these. I loved Star Wars as a kid, I had light sabers, toys, video games and of course the movies—(I even made my own home-made Star Wars movies) but, I never got into the table tops.
But—a good friend of mine said that I ABSOLUTELY could not leave them out of this list. So I didn’t.
What do you think about this list? Did any of these resonate with you? Is my buddy right, were Star Wars table top games a big part of your child hood?
Is your Nostalgia sense tingling?