Force Friday is the latest name given to the big official merchandise drop that comes with each successive Star Wars film. It’s fair to say that I’m a “veteran” of this event, having done these since the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, where my friends and I made the front page of the Dallas newspaper.
Though I have only missed one of these (the Rouge One event, which I don’t feel too badly about, considering I’ve attended each of the main “Saga” films), I’ve attended each one at a local Toys “R” Us. Even more interesting is that to date, I’ve attended each one of these events in a different city:
1999 (The Phantom Menace) – Dallas, TX
2002 (Attack of the Clones) – San Diego, CA
2005 (Revenge of the Sith) – Los Angeles, CA
2015 (The Force Awakens) – Las Vegas, NV
2017 (The Last Jedi) – Pensacola, FL
It’s an event that has followed my own personal life story, so even if I weren’t to buy anything, I’d still attend these because it’s always been there, and there are a lot of fond memories for me.
In my earlier days, I was an active figure hunter before events like this were actual organized events. Back when Kenner/Hasbro started releasing Star Wars figures to toy stores again, there had been a time in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s that Star Wars merchandise wasn’t on shelves at all, if you can believe such a thing. It truly was a hunt.
But I have a lot of fond memories of Danny and I going full “treasure mode” back then, scouring websites like Rebel Scum.Com in those early days of the internet in hopes of finding any new release information. We’d then drive to the farthest stores in the Dallas area, and celebrate our productive hauls over a late-night bite to eat. It was a fun friend “hanging out” time for both of us, and while I don’t collect anything on nearly that level anymore (there’s simply too much out there these days), I was still curious to see what they had, and if any of these new items would start to tell the story of what’s to come. I at least wanted a Luke Skywalker figure, for old time’s sake.
The line made up about 40 people when I got to my local Toys “R” Us, which was a larger crowd than I had expected. The associates allowed people to enter in small groups, until finally the guy at the door basically went “Whatever”, and let everyone in in a rush.
Still, by the time I got to the Star Wars aisle, the selection was fairly picked over, or people were grabbing up the remaining things by the time I made it into the section. As luck would have it, I did find C-3PO, Chewbacca with a Porg, and the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker that I was hoping to find. Toys “R” Us aso handed out a free Funko T-shirt and poster to everyone that attended.
On the way home, I chuckled to myself that all of my chosen selections were from the original films. It’s still strange to me seeing the “Disney” logo prominently stamped on all Star Wars merchandise these days. Regardless, it was a fun experience for the evening, though it’s even stranger to think I’ve attended these events for 18 years now.
Even funnier still on the subject of “way back when”, I managed to find my old Geocities Star Wars fan site from the 1990’s, so feel free to bask in those amazing animated images and text links of two decades past.