The Toys Will Be With You, Always On Star Wars, family, and periodic carbon freezing

At the end of this story, we will return to my living-room table, which looked some­thing like this last weekend. You may have spotted this picture before if you follow me on Instagram.

The story begins, however, in 1977. My mother took me to the cinema to watch some cool new science-fiction movie that everyone was talking about—and the rest is history. Fast forward to the mid-1980s and my room was filled with Star Wars para­pher­nalia. Posters, T-shirts, novels, stickers, comics, Bantha Tracks newslet­ters, a copy of Time maga­zine with George Lucas on the cover, the list goes on and on.

But mostly, there were toys. Glorious, exciting, adven­ture-inducing toys. Dolls, vehi­cles, blasters, space ships, light sabers… For a kid with an imag­i­na­tion that could fly as fast as the Millennium Falcon, this was heaven. I cannot begin to count the number of hours I must have spent on my bedroom floor, alone or with friends, deeply immersed in that galaxy far, far away. Back then I wasn’t aware of how forma­tive and mean­ingful these wonder-filled tales of heroes and villains and faraway worlds would become to me.

Moving on to the second chapter

As it goes with young boys, they even­tu­ally become young men. My collec­tion of Star Wars toys saw less and less play­time and even­tu­ally became some­thing I’d look at with fond memo­ries of child­hood. When I moved out of the house, the time came to pack them up and store them away. They were kept safely in carbon-freeze hiber­na­tion.

Fast forward again and in due course, my sons were born more or less in sync with the release of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Toy shops were filled with Star Wars goodies once again, and I had two little Padawans of my own. I was now in my thir­ties but still thir­teen at heart (I still am).

This was the age of the digital home cinema renais­sance, and once all six films were avail­able on DVD, I could begin the hallowed process of intro­ducing my boys to that other, magical universe. I started with the orig­inal trilogy, of course, and then moved on to the prequels. My boys thought Jar Jar Binks was hilar­ious, and I daren’t beg to differ.

They were excited to explore this strange new world together with their dad, so you can imagine their starry-eyed delight when I even­tu­ally opened up some big old boxes—newly recov­ered from a 15-year exile—and a veri­table trea­sure trove of Star Wars good­ness emerged. Their biggest surprise was that these were my old toys. One of the greatest epipha­nies for chil­dren is the discovery that their parents were once small chil­dren, just like them.

Luke, Leia, Han and the others had found their way back onto a child’s bedroom floor. For years, co-existed happily with new 21st-century Star Wars play­things. They relived all of their old adven­tures with new travel compan­ions and got some brand-new ones for good measure. Some got damaged or lost along the way (sorry, Chewie!) but most are still around and ready for more.

Packing up, again

Which brings us to today and that picture of my old toys on the living-room table. The reason they were there is that my boys are now turning into young men. So it goes. It’s time for the Falcon, the Wampa, the Snowtrooper and the other toys to go into carbon-freeze once again.

Carrie Fisher has said more than once that for her, Star Wars movies are essen­tially about family. I couldn’t agree more. It’s also about gener­a­tions, and about how the old pass on their stories, their knowl­edge, their wisdom and their humanity to the young. This narra­tive theme perme­ates all seven episodes to date, and I’m sure it will continue in the eagerly awaited The Last Jedi.

It’s a theme that also continues to breathe life into my own journey. I am now once again the custo­dian of my old play­time trea­sure trove, keeping it like a lightsaber in a wooden chest, in case my grand­chil­dren ever come knocking on adventure’s door. If they do, I will be more than thrilled to sit down on their bedroom floor and join in the fun.

I may even point out to them the one box (Luke’s land­speeder on Tatooine) that has a dedi­ca­tion on the top left corner. It reads “For Harman AJE 7–8-1980” and was inscribed there by my own grand­fa­ther, Andrés Julio Espinal—a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away.

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Image credit: Lucasfilm (source)

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