My Own Personal Star Wars

Growing up in the 80’s there were two things I was interested in: playing outside and Star Wars. I loved everything about the movie… specifically Empire Strikes Back. I had the bed sheets, the Hoth Action Playset, and a few random action figures. My Grandmother even made me a Star Wars t-shirt by cutting R2-D2 and C3PO out of a printed pillowcase and affixing it to a bright red shirt. I would sit with the Sears Dream Book and pour over the pages featuring the latest and most expensive Star Wars stuff. Stuff I would never be able to afford. Thinking back I think the only reason I had the figures I did was because they used to sell them at from the local Publix grocery store from an endcap.

The oddest thing about my Star Wars fixation was that I had never seen the movie. I had never seen ANY of the two films that were out at that point. My first of the original trilogy would be Return of the Jedi in 1983 at a dollar show when I was 11 years old. So I was left to make up my own universe, to decide who was good and bad, and what their relationships were.

I remember believing that Stormtroopers were robots. Jawas were little kids with black cloth wrapped around their faces. Obi Wan was their father of course… he had a similar cloth robe so it made sense to me. I could tell that Vader was the bad guy… but I had no idea what the red stick that came out of his forearm was supposed to be. The old man had a stick too, so I would make them have fights. When I retracted the stick, they were holding flashlights. The large harry guy was a human who just had a lot of hair. So much in fact that his head couldn’t turn. That always bothered me. The Power Droid, a box with legs that I later saw in IV walking through the belly of the Jawa’s Sandcrawler, was a Coke machine. The FX-7 Medical Droid had a ton if little arms that could come out. In my world he was a gas station.


Looking at the back of the blister packages I could tell that my figures weren’t the ones everyone else had. I didn’t have the “real” Luke Skywalker with the white outfit and belt. I had Luke in his orange flight suit. I didn’t have “Princess” Leia, I had the Hoth Winter Suit Leia. This was probably due to the fact that we were a bit poor. Mom was probably picking out the unwanted figures that were discounted. That may seem like a harsh assumption… but I have evidence.

Mom told me that I would be getting the Millennium Falcon and an X-Wing Fighter for my birthday. I couldn’t believe it. I had never had any of the vehicles or spaceships… and now I was going to be getting two! She said that she couldn’t believe how cheap they were. So imagine my disappointment when I opened them at the party to find that they were actually just models. I know it wasn’t on purpose… but it defiantly explained why they were so cheap. To this day my Mom is the lady who will buy the rip-off videos like, “The Lion Cub” or “The Small Mermaid” thinking she’s buying the real movies.

Eventually “cable” came to our city and we got to see Star Wars. Things weren’t exactly how I had imagined them, but I was far from disappointed. I still have a theory that Jawas are indeed misshapen dwarf clones of Obi Wan… and that he is, therefore, their Father.

James Kennison is the host of Nobody’s Listening ( and several other podcasts (

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