Last week on Guest Geeks John Adams of Seattle’s Super Awesome Geek Show stopped by with part one of his Star Wars fandom article, and he’s back again for part two of what will be a three-part guest post. The best introduction is really just reading part one, so I’m going to make my own intro quick and simply say…
Back to you, John!
What Star Wars Means to Me
Growing up, we were not poor, but we also were not rich, by any means. We had every single action figure and some of the ships like the aforementioned Tie-Fighter and X-Wing, but we never got the big stuff like the AT-AT. I still remember my grandmother giving me Han Solo for Christmas of 1978 and that year each and every aunt, uncle and grandparent coordinated the gifts and got me one figure each, until I had all 12. Through the years, we kept getting all the figures and small vehicles, but I had always wanted that AT-AT. It stuck in my mind like glue. Something I just HAD to have.
One morning on either my 18th or 19th birthday, I came downstairs to find a package on the table all wrapped up with a note on it. My father had run off to work or something and left it there for me to find. I don’t remember exactly, but the note said something to the effect of, “I know you had always wanted this, so here, you finally do”. I un-wrapped it and there, before my eyes, was an AT-AT. He apparently had found it on clearance for something like $5 at a Kay-Bee Toys and thought it would make a good gag-gift. He intended to give me my “real gift” later that evening after he was home from work. To this day, I don’t even remember what my “real gift” was; all I cared about was that I finally had an AT-AT.
This gag-gift sent me running up to my room and to the toy chest. I had this huge wooden and very solid crate with a huge wood lid on it where I had put all the toys we had as children. I dug through all the Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-man, Blackstar, M.A.S.K., Dino-Riders, Centurions, Sectaurs, Air Raiders, M.U.S.C.L.E. Men, and finally – there before me, at the bottom, were all the Star Wars toys. I eagerly pulled out the action figures, which were all in sandwich baggies with their weapons (something I had learned to do, since losing Walrusman’s blaster) and the ships and play-sets. Well, what was left of those anyways, and I started putting them together and setting them up all on the bedroom floor. I was just like that kid again, playing Star Wars at 19 years old.
I looked around my room and thought of those shelves that Eric, the neighbor-kid, had in his room and immediately got up and drove myself to the hardware store where my brother was now working.
By the end of the day, I had shelves everywhere and my room was all set up with all our old Star Wars toys. As I was setting all this up, I found a few with price stickers on them. Apparently, I had once thought about having a garage sale and getting rid of all this “old childhood junk”, and I was so thankful I never went ahead with that sale. I felt as though I was rescuing my treasured friends when I took those stickers off and placed each item carefully on a shelf.
That gag-gift had rekindled my interest in comic-books and action figures and sparked the collector in me once again. The only problem was that I didn’t have much money to go back and buy the toys from my childhood to complete the collection. Sure, I worked at McDonalds and Wonderland Comics, at the time, but that paid for my car, gas for the car, food, rock concerts and hanging out with my friends, things that I did not want to give up to a hobby. So Star Wars once again came to my aid. Our love of Star Wars sparked my friend Onofrio and me to open our own business. We would sell off other toys from lines we did not collect and use that money to get Star Wars and other things that interested us. We formed a company together and got a vendor license and would sell at local shows such as R.A.T.S. – the Rochester Antique Toy Show. Together we would hunt garage sales, thrift stores and clearance sales to find toys to sell through our business so we could then use the money to buy things we wanted for our own collections (something I still do to this day with my eBay store, Kingdom Of The Geeks).
We also joined a Star Wars club, called The Greater Rochester Area Star Wars Fan Club (or GRASWFC, for short). I quickly became a super-involved member and would host meetings and other events. Randy, one of the guys who started the club, and I even got local radio and TV involved and when the time was right for Star Wars to return to the theaters, as the prequels we organized the 5th line-up to start in the entire United States. We were officially sponsored by a radio station called The Nerve (WNRV out of Rochester, NY) and a local Television Station. We were featured and listed on places such as CountingDown and other websites who were tracking the lines forming around the country. My job, at Xerox, let me have 2 weeks vacation for this event and we started our line a full 10 days before the tickets even went on sale.
Randy and I planned on buying a ticket for each showing and we would sit there together watching Star Wars all day long, eating movie-theatre food in-between shows for lunch and dinner. Little did we know how grueling that day would be … (but my hate/love of the prequels are for another time and story, for now, I will just admit – I have gown fond of the prequels in just the last year or so, perhaps because I am older and see their merit, well … except maybe The Phantom Menace.)
We were in all the news-papers and on TV and this got the club a lot of press and a ton of new members joined. I even met another very good friend who delivered pizza to all of us in line dressed as Boba-Fett. From the moment Brian walked up in that home-made outfit, we were friends for life. He made it from card-board and plastic and an old jump-suit he found at an army surplus store. To this day, Brian and I are good friends, even though he now lives and teaches in Japan. But more importantly, Star Wars was back in my life once again and in full force!
However, after a round of lay-offs at Xerox and a few other downturns in my life, such as the girls of my dreams leaving me (left for understandable family reasons – we are still friends to this day and talk yearly) as well as other disappointments in life, I decided to take a step in a new direction and closed down the toy business, packed up all my Star Wars stuff and moved across the country to Seattle, WA. It took an entire U-Haul to hold just my Star Wars and toy collection. (That was such a fun move, but again – a story for another time.)
Watch for the final part of John’s post, coming soon to Geek Notes!
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A starving artist and photographer, John Adams produces and hosts the Super Awesome Geek Show podcast. John is also co-owner Mowich net LLC and owner of the Kingdom Of The Geeks eBay store. He fought in the battle of Yavin and still remembers where he was the day Optimus Prime fell to Megatron. Email him at SuperAwesomeGeekShow@gmail.com.