The Star Wars saga has shown us that Han, Luke, Leia, and company had regular brushes with danger, fighting their way out of close scrapes and situations. Here on Earth, the kids of the ’70s and ’80s faced similar terrors, albeit of a slightly less stellar nature. Moms and dads worldwide, desperate to find a way to get their kids to get into the daily routine of brushing their teeth, quickly realized that there was no better way to make it happen than to give their kids the coolest option in oral hygiene — Star Wars toothbrushes. And so it was that from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s kids were raging about their new toothbrushes, adorned with a selection of their favorite characters. Just think, you could brush and go with Threepio, fight the plaque to Hoth and back, scrub your gums with Rebel chums and safely chew thanks to Artoo. Battling tooth decay had suddenly become fun.
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I’m going to take you on a journey. A stereo journey. Back to the mid 1970s, when a little fancied sci-fi film called Star Wars changed the world of cinema and exploded into popular culture like Bazooka Joe’s bubble gum. It was a world of 7″ and 12″ vinyl, cassettes, and 8-tracks, when your dad’s music setup was often housed within a sideboard the size of a Morris Marina and when the Walkman was still a long-distant dream. So for kids of the day, desperate for as much Star Wars as they could get their hands, eyes, taste buds, and ears on the music of the film was an evocative and much-prized treasure.
Today the music of Star Wars is as iconic as any aspect of the film, weaving its way into the cultural subconsciousness and launching a thousand imitators. The original soundtrack, a double album with booklet released in May 1977 by 20th Century Records, sold in millions and revived not only the popularity of the orchestral soundtrack but also the mass appeal of movie soundtracks in general. It made a global star of the already Oscar-laden John Williams and, completely incidentally, gave a plethora of artists and labels — some non-licensed — the impetus to go out and record some of their own versions of the films score. In these far savvier days, when a cursory glance at the internet would tell you instantly whether or not you were buying the “real thing” the thought of picking up one of these albums might seem crazy, but when kids were clamoring for anything remotely related to the galaxy’s greatest film these releases sold well.
Here then is a look at just a few of those unique releases, some reasonably well-known (MECO hit number #1 on the Billboard Top 100 with his “Star Wars Theme” and today can be heard over the end credits of all RebelForce Radio shows and some not so much (“The Sounds of Star Wars” by The Sonic All-Stars anyone?)
In the part one of “15 Years of LEGO Star Wars“, I looked at the introduction of the mashup franchise through to the end of 2005 and the release of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge on the Sith. Part two of this retrospective looks at the period between 2006 and 2010 which includes the 10th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars and the introduction of the first sets from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. By the end of 2005 we’d seen 124 sets released which included over 125 different minifigures.
In today’s world, when communication is conducted largely by the tapping of a keyboard and the click of a mouse and deletions are executed by the pressing of the backspace button, excitement over erasers — or rubbers, as we commonly call them here in the UK — may seem odd. But back in the day, when rubbers were among the many cool branded items you could grab at a cheap price that had the characters and vehicles of Star Wars on them, they were an essential purchase. And importantly, they were a great way of showing your love of the movie to your fellow fans at school while pretending to focus on the teacher at the front of the class. We had pencil cases, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, stationary sets, and more, but back in the days when fragrant erasers were still allowed to be sold in the UK, Star Wars erasers were an essential tool in one’s school supplies pouch.
The International Toy Fair in New York wrapped up last Wednesday, and the team from StarWars.com was there to ensure we brought you all the latest news on what you can expect from the industry over the upcoming months. There were lots of new products to see, including new items from Star Wars Rebels as well as products from the original and prequel trilogies.
In addition to the galleries already presented by Hasbro and LEGO, we present new images of some of the products on display. The first LEGO gallery didn’t include any of the summer product line, which includes a new Imperial Star Destroyer which opens up fully with some great new play features and comes with fix new minifigures (2 x Strormtrooper, Imperial Officer, Imperial Navy Trooper, Imperial Crew, and Darth Vader) as well as a stunning brand new holographic Emperor micro figure. For all fans of The Empire Strikes Back we look forward to new sets of the AT-AT featuring four new minifigures (General Veers, Snowtrooper Commander, AT-AT Driver, and 2 x Snowtroopers). In a new take on one of the first sets released 15 years ago, the snowspeeder which comes with three new minifigures (Sandtrooper, Luke Skywalker, and Dak Ralter) and a new firing harpoon mechanism.
LEGO Star Wars celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, and some of my next few Collecting the Galaxy blog posts will be devoted to looking back at the history of the mashup franchise. In the first of these LEGO Star Wars-inspired blogs we look at the period between 1999 and 2005, which takes in the releases of the prequels and the first original trilogy sets, too.
At WeLoveFine, we know that year-round fans are looking for ways to express their passion for the things they love. And unless you live in certain parts of the globe (or on Tatooine), you probably can’t get by with just a T-shirt during the winter months. How can we pair up some of our most beloved Star Wars icons and characters with fashion that not only looks awesome, but will make you feel awesomely warm when there’s a Hoth-like chill in the air?
The holiday season is over and a new year has begun, which means that by now you’re probably back at work, college, or school and the thoughts of this year’s festivities couldn’t be further from your mind.
That may be the reality for most, but for toy and collectibles companies around the world this is actually one of the most important times of the year. Over six weeks they will take their new products around the world — the Toy Fair in Hong Kong took place January 6-9, followed by the Japanese Toy Fair which takes place this week, from January 12-15. Next week, from January 21-23, Toy Fair arrives in the UK, followed by Germany from January 29-February 3, and then to North America for the International Toy Fair in New York from February 16-19.
I never pass up an opportunity to ask people whose work I idolize about Star Wars. And I recently had the chance to speak to Art Spiegelman about his art, the Pulitzer Prize he won for his anthropomorphic tale of the holocaust, Maus, and the rest of his career. He has a show of his work going on in New York at the Jewish Museum, though it contains nothing from the Star Wars saga.
Spiegelman worked at the Topps card company for a long time (he even came up with the idea of Garbage Pail Kids) and I thought he might have an interesting take on Star Wars, since Topps produced my favorite collectible from the ’70s, the Star Wars bubblegum trading cards.