Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not That Long Ago in a Neighbourhood Not That Far Away...

Nanaimo, B.C., May 1978. Thirty years ago next month to be precise. A motion picture by the name of Star Wars had been out for just under a year, and the product tie-ins had finally begun to catch up with the world-wide demand. T-shirts, posters, jigsaw puzzles, books and most importantly - toys were flooding the shelves, of both stores and of rabid Star Wars fans like me.

Being the creative-type nine year old that I was I decided to gather some of those Star Wars items that had found their way into my hot little hands and attempt to recreate some of my favourite scenes from said film. So with a shooting budget slightly less than that of the original, the family Kodak Instamatic camera and whatever props were easily at hand I set about retelling this sci-fi saga in miniature scale.

First up ( above ) we see a scene from early in the film featuring fussy goldenrod robot C-3PO ( Kenner's 3.25" action figure ) stranded in the sun-drenched ( fake wood paneled ) desert wastes of sand planet Tatooine ( my floral patterned bedspread ). With the hulking skeletal remains of some fierce creature ( a beaver skull I found in the bush and some toilet paper ) in the background Threepio desperately waves for help at the off-screen Jawa Sandcrawler. Close comparison of this recreation with the corresponding shot from the film proves indistinguishable to all but the most highly trained eye. Success!

Next we move ahead to Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and the droid's arrival at the spaceport of Mos Eisley. Notice the attention to detail as feared Imperial Stormtroopers question our heroes as to their recent robotic shopping history ( to no doubt facilitate better customer service in the future ) as desert denizens convincingly menace nearby. I must have spent months scouting the location ( my best friend's driveway ), tracking down set pieces ( a handy rock ), and adding authentic touches like the paper punch-out Sandcrawler in the background. "Move along. Move along." indeed!

As was evidenced by my many abandoned comic book attempts at the time I seemed to have a short interest span when it came to creating long form continuity. So I decided to wrap up my pint-sized adaptation with one whiz-bang, pull out all the stops, everything but the kitchen sink battle scene. Where, you may ask, was the giant beaver skull, Space 1999 Rub-Down Action Set, or green shag carpet in the final climax of the original film? Missing, if you ask me! Pt-zoo, pt-zoo! Arghh... Kapow! Zoom...shkewwww. Chomp-chomp! PKOWWWW! ( Roll end title music ).

With film still left in the camera and an itchy shutter finger I decided to document the state of my bedroom decorating affairs with a couple of shots of that swingin' chick-magnet that was my nine year old room. From the classic Star Wars and Mylar Popeye posters to the groovy nautically themed wallpaper and Dymo Label Maker labelled "Underwear and P.J." drawer it doesn't get much more stylin' than this.
Keen-eyed viewers may also notice the assortment of late 70s kid toy icons arrayed across the top of my chest of drawers. From left to right: Micronaut's Photon Sled, Battlestar Galactica's Colonial Viper, the previously featured Landspeeder from Star Wars, and, absent it's accompanying figure, the wings from Micronauts Acroyear.

Wrapping up this unsurprisingly self-indulgent soiree we now present a wider shot of the wonderful world that that I inhabited circa May 1978.
You don't see a lot of carpet art these days but it was all the rage ( okay, at least at our house ) in the 70s. Also featured in this time capsule of tackiness are ( once again left to right ) my 1978 Star Wars calendar ( every vintage photo should include a calendar for ease of dating! ), a glued down and shellacked SW puzzle, a piece of Kid Glen Star Wars art, the fold-out poster from the first issue of the descriptively named "Star Wars Poster Monthly" and another fold-out poster from one of the many sci-fi movie magazines I used to buy every week at the local newstand ( Starlog, Fantastic Films, Science Fantasy Film Classics, etc ).

In the upper right corner of the photo you can just make out ( although I'm not sure why you'd want to! ) two of the four spaceship models I had hanging from my ceiling at the time : a Klingon Battle Cruiser and the K-7 Space Station. Not pictured are the X-Wing from Star Wars and the Romulan Bird of Prey.
I wasn't the biggest Star Trek fan ( although I liked it ) but since, at least early on, it was easier to get Star Trek merchandise than Star Wars I ended up with a bunch of it.

Along the shelf at the bottom you can see a range of items including my knock-off lightsabre ( a flashlight and golf club tube type ), the above-mentioned Space 1999 Rub-On set, an over-sized King Kamehameha poseable action figure ( okay... a doll ) from a trip to Hawaii, a Spider-Man plastic bank, a bird house I built from a kit, Hardy Boy books and assorted comics and magazines.
Let your childhood geek flag fly!


Marilyn said...

A trip down memory lane,great fun!

Todd Franklin said...

Such a fun post! I think the Death Star needed some green shag. (By the way nice wallpaper. I had similar paper on my bedroom wall)

Glen Mullaly said...

Thanks Todd. I think the green shag CGI version of the Death Star scenes will be included on a bonus disc in the DVD release.

Wishbook said...

I wonder about the new flickr pool pictures (not yours) dated Halloween, 1977 with kids in full costumes. I don't have the memory to say either way, but I'm wondering (like you indicated in your post) if the marketing behemoth wasn't still slumbering for most--if not all--of 1977.

What do you think? Was it even possible for me to have started grade two (1977) with a Star Wars lunch box or gone out a month later with with a Chewie poncho costume?

Glen Mullaly said...

The King-Seeley metal lunchkit was a very early entry into the 1977 merchandising rush. It was released Aug 15, 1977.
The Ben Cooper kid's costumes and ponchos were released Oct. 1st 77. Just in time for Halloween.

Many books, records, posters, puzzles, costumes, school supplies, food premiums, t-shirts, and the like made it to the shelves in '77. Most toys were 1978 though.

Wishbook said...

Nice! Thanks for that info, Glen. It's always cool to have a definitive account of how things went down. :)


Jason Eaton said...

I love all the swag, and how EVERYONE seemed to have the same things from that era. It ties us all together in a great way.

I'm still living in that headspace, but have distilled it down to the one area I was most obsessed with - ILM.