I have a passion for collecting vintage Star Wars merchandise from the late 70's. Action figures, comics, trading cards etc - anything related to the first Star Wars movie. But why only until 1980? It's not that I don't love The Empire Strikes Back and beyond (I really do), but there is something about that first wave of Star Wars mania that really grips me, back when it was all fresh and exciting...
I don't usually do obituaries for Star Wars folks or anybody else for that matter. Other people do them much better than me. Star Wars is a massive family that began 40 years ago so it's natural that we will lose people along the way and we have - Peter Cushing, Kenny Baker, Christopher Lee are just some the actors who come to mind and we've lost plenty of crew members too. Also, 2016 has been brutal, we all know that.
But this one hit me hard.
Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) has died. I was worried by her recent heart attack and, for a moment, thought she might pull through, but she's gone. I really wasn't prepared for losing one of the 'big three' (i.e. Luke, Han and Leia) so soon. I'm not going to go into the effect her death has on the upcoming movies other than to say that Episode IIX is more or less done which hopefully burdens only the concluding part of the new trilogy with her absence. That's all I'm going to say on the matter. They're movies. This is a person's life I'm talking about.
Princess Leia was always something of a double-edged sword for Carrie Fisher. Star Wars made her and yet, as with so many involved in the franchise, it dominated her life. I've seen her laugh it all off in interviews but you could always see that her smile was a little thin. While I like seeing her in other roles and wish there had been more of them, it was her off-screen personality that really made me like her. She was tough, cynical and very funny. I like to think that this was something she brought to the role of Leia and am grateful that she gave us such a powerful heroine in the late seventies - a time when popular culture really needed one. Star Wars gets a lot of flak for its female representation but I think it's easy to take that first movie for granted. Sure, Leia is a princess to be rescued but she proves to be just as tough as the boys in a fight, gives orders to rebel pilots and faces down slimy politicians into the bargain. For a light-hearted space romp made in 1977 I think this was really something.
Carrie embraced the character more in recent years, seemingly accepting her fate. She once joked that 'Princess Leia' will be on her gravestone, not 'Carrie Fisher'. I sincerely hope that won't be the case. However, it was a defining role in every sense of the word and, while I would have liked to have seen more of her in The Force Awakens, I was immensely grateful to have her back. Episode IX is going to be strange climax to the whole shebang without her.
This isn't much of an obituary. Find some others that cover her career in better detail and read those. The way I'm feeling right now, I just had to write something. I'm watching Rogue One tomorrow (for the first time). Knowing how it leads into the iconic opening of my favorite movie ever, It's going to be a bittersweet experience to say the least.
I've touched on the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special before and, apart from a never produced line of wookiee action figures by Kenner, there was never really any merchandise for it. Apart from this.
Random House did several kids books based on Star Wars including four activity books and a couple of stories - The Maverick Moon and The Rebellious Robot. This one is in a different format (hardcover) but the style is more or less the same. Tying in with what we saw of the Wookiees in the Holiday Special, Chewbacca's son Lumpy, heads down to the lower levels of the forest (against his mother's warnings) to collect wasaka-berries. Chewbacca is returning home after a three-year mission with Han Solo and there is to be a big celebration for his bicentennial. This word is mentioned quite a lot throughout the book and the author was no doubt cashing in on the fresh memories of America's own bicentennial that was a big thing only a couple of years before this book was published. Needless to say, things don't go to plan and Lumpy finds himself lost and pursued by a series of frightening creatures on the forest floor.
Cue Han and Chewie! Now apparently adult Wookiees have the ability to think messages to each other (at least in this obscure book). This spiritual way of communication comes in handy right about now and Lumpy's mother (Malla) thinks a message to Chewie who is on board the Falcon. Arriving at Kashyyyk, Chewie takes the Falcon's 'explorer craft' down to the surface to look for his son. Take a look at that little craft exiting the Falcon!
Chewie of course rescues Lumpy and they all head home for a big party. Mission accomplished. Happy days.