Star Wars on VHS

  • PLEASE FOLLOW THE RETROIST

An old Jedi Master once said, “Star Wars Collectors. Buy anything, they will.”

Okay, so maybe Yoda never really said that, but he might as well have. For a couple of decades I bought everything I could find related to the original trilogy, and I have the shelves, rooms, tubs, and boxes to prove it. One of my shelves has a little spot dedicated to all the VHS copies I’ve owned throughout the years.

These are the two oldest VHS copies of Star Wars that I own. Despite their appearances, the one on the right is actually quite a bit older. The one on the left has a copyright date of 1990, while the one on the right goes all the way back to 1983. I believe both of these were rental store copies.

My favorite thing about these is that they have phrases like “Mono-Compatible” written on the packaging.

Next up is the 1995 box set.

I bought these when I working at Best Buy and used my employee discount, bringing the original $50 price tag down a bit. This box set contains the original version of all three films. Yes, in this box set, Han shoots first. They’re also in full-screen, but that’s the way we rolled back then.

The next version of the box set I have contain “digitally remastered” versions of the trilogy.

Unlike the previous one, this box set contains a few extras including an “exclusive George Lucas interview”. Even back before you had your fancy “special features” on Blu-ray and DVD, we had them on VHS, too. The spine of these tapes has “THX” printed on them. Even though the audio has been enhanced, I believe these are still in 4:3 ratio. The back of this box set has a “handwritten” note from George Lucas, calling this the “final video release of Star Wars in its original version.” The writing was literally on the wall.

The last one I own is the remastered version, often referred to as the “Vader Release.” the “Gold Box” release, or simple the “Special Edition” version.

The front of this box says “Special Edition” and “Digitally Mastered THX”. In case you haven’t guessed, these are the special edition version of the films that were released back into theaters in the mid-to-late 1990s. A quick pic of the back of the Star Wars box reveals one of these things that’s not like the other.

Oh, Jabba.

I believe I am missing one release, a widescreen, THX version of the trilogy released sometime after the gold edition. I also do not own any of the later prequels on VHS… but as a Star Wars collector I am resigned to the fact that someday, I probably will.


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