Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys

PlasticGalaxy

I’ve said before how excited I am to have played a small part in this project, so when the finished DVD of Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys landed in my mailbox last week, it was a little like the day I got my Bossk.

Here’s the elevator pitch from the DVD web site:

Like no toys before them, Star Wars toys were a phenomenon that swept the nation, transforming both the toy and movie industries, and ultimately creating a hobby that, 30 years later, still holds sway over its fans.

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary that explores the groundbreaking and breathtaking world of Star Wars toys. Through interviews with former Kenner employees, experts, authors, and collectors, it looks at the toys’ history, their influence, and the fond and fervent feelings they elicit today.

I may not be the most impartial reviewer, of course, but think the movie turned out well. It’s a nice balance of nostalgia trip, toy merchandising history lesson, eye-popping show-and-tell, and behind-the-scenes storytelling. There’s some fun animation work throughout, too.

Several nifty people I’ve met and/or know from fan circles are also in the movie, like Jim Swearingen, and a couple OSWCC and KennerCollector.com friends, and Steve Sansweet, who wrote what’s still one of my all-time favorite Star Wars books, “From Concept to Screen to Collectible.” (A book, which, it should be noted, also inspired Plastic Galaxy. It’s still a good read 20+ years after its publication. Most of what has become common knowledge about the Kenner/Star Wars backstory was unearthed by Sansweet first.)

It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that if you remember the Kenner brand or coveted the neighbor kid’s Landspeeder or grew up in the twin-sun shadow of the original Star Wars, then Plastic Galaxy is probably in your wheelhouse. You can order it from Brian and Karl’s Futurious Industries.

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February 2, 2014 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Film, geek | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter 2012-13: Giant Vintage Chewie Snow Gauge

As tradition demands, we’re measuring the current precipitation with the Galactically-recognized Giant Vintage Chewie Snow Scale.

11:48 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. Already a few inches on the ground, but not enough to support our Wookiee – he’s leaning against a ground-level section of 4×4. (And yes, Chewie sacrificed a limb to the winter deities a few seasons back.)

IMG_20121226_114717

And here, at about 6:20 p.m.:

IMAG0891

Further updates as events warrant.

December 26, 2012 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Collect All 21! – Special Bonus Packs

All sold – thanks, readers!

Dec. 7 update: Three of the four copies have been sold! The remaining unused Hasbro cardback is the General Grievous version.

 

I’ve got one four paperback copy copies of Collect All 21! leftover from the Akron Comicon, so I thought I’d package a few extras with them for the holidays. Details below the photo.

Collect All 21 - Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - John Booth

But wait! There’s more!

So, each paperback copy (signed/personalized/whatever – heck, I’ll put some of my Lego minifig stickers and googly eyes on the title page if you want) will come with:

  • One unused cardback from Hasbro’s current vintage-style line. The fronts are done in the style of the old Kenner packaging – which is very cool – and the backs have a little bit of Kenner figure history on them. These have never had actual action figures attached. (Note: Three of these are Boba Fetts, and one is General Grievous.)
  • TWO vintage Topps cards from the “Giant Full Color Photocards” set. Yes: These are the actual cards from 1980. (Genuine Nostalgia!) No, there is no giant stale gum.
  • A digital version (not pictured – of course) of the extra chapter’s worth of material which was added to the Expanded Edition of Collect All 21! This will be delivered by email and can be sent as a Word document, PDF or in ebook form. It’s only the new interviews and added content – not a digital edition of the entire book.

And I’ll knock 10% off the cover price, so you’ll get the book plus those extras for $13.50 + shipping.

If you’re interested, leave a comment or send me an email at booth (at) fieldsedge.com

December 2, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, Ohio, science fiction | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Collect All 21! Expanded Edition is back in the Kindle Store

Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - Expanded Edition

Click to visit the book’s Kindle Store page, which includes a preview.

I got a lot of encouraging feedback in July of 2011 when I expanded Collect All 21! for a digital edition. Unfortunately, while the folks at my digital publishing company were great to work with and did a bang-up job converting the book and pushing it through various channels, they had to make the difficult decision to close their virtual doors earlier this year, ending the availability of the Expanded Edition.

After thinking things over for a bit and pestering some very patient and understanding friends for advice, I decided to go ahead and tweak a couple small glitches and make the Expanded Edition available again myself through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

It’s available for all Amazon Kindle devices and apps, and here’s the write-up from the Collect All 21! Kindle Store page:

Opening that first Darth Vader figure and putting him in a Landspeeder. Imagining a snowy elementary school playground as the wastes of Hoth. Seeing Return of the Jedi on opening night.

Moments like these – and a galaxy more – make up more than three decades of “Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.” Author and first-generation saga fan John Booth takes the reader from a childhood packed with Star Wars guys (never “action figures”) and Christmas wishes both fulfilled and unrealized, through the years when the trilogy lay dormant to the mainstream public’s eye, and into an age of seeing George Lucas’ universe as an adult while exploring it again as a parent.

Collect All 21! revisits the late 1970s and early ’80s, in all their bad-haircuts-and-Atari glory, then moves beyond those decades and nostalgia to explore the evolution of the Star Wars saga and its fandom.

This expanded electronic edition also includes interviews with Star Wars cast and crew members reflecting on the saga’s impact from both first-generation-fan standpoints and a career spent bringing the universe to life on-screen.

Named by Topless Robot as one of The Ten Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, Collect All 21! is a love letter from a self-aware geek written under the sometimes harsh light of hindsight, softened with understanding. It captures the innocence and wonder and infinite possibilities of what it meant to an eight-year-old to Collect All 21!

“Like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek.”
– WIRED magazine’s GeekDad

“The feeling of childhood magic that pours from its pages will have you reflecting on how much of an impact the Wars have had on you.”
– Topless Robot

“I never thought I’d actually get that Time-Travel Belt, but reading this book is almost better.”
– George Krstic, writer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Motorcity, and Megas XLR

I’ve also decided to keep the Kindle edition at it’s three-dollar price – which means, yes: More book than the print edition, for less money.

Additionally, it’s available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for FREE.

And hey – Star Wars Celebration VI is coming up fast, so why not start getting psyched up now?

July 1, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Kenner Ruled the Earth

A couple of my OSWCC friends, Dan Flarida and John Wooten, have been posting some very cool stuff on their KennerCollector website lately – and I have the feeling the nostalgia is just beginning.

Their posts inspired me to dig up some photos from the 2005 OSWCC Summer Social, when original Star Wars Kenner toy designer Jim Swearingen came to visit with a sail-barge load of late ’70s and early ’80s Kenner photos and artwork:

(Want a slightly closer look at the Boba Fett art & R2-D2 blueprints? Here.)

Jim was really patient with all the questions he fielded that day, and it was awfully fun just to sit and listen to him talk matter-of-factly about things like going to California to meet with George Lucas and see the Boba Fett costume in person in order to design the action figure. In the picture below, there’s a reference photo of that costume with George standing next to it, top center. (Here’s a little closer view of the pile of stuff, including that Lucas photo.)

Click the photo for larger versions.

The third photo I have of Jim –

Click for larger versions.

– includes one of the neatest file photos I think he brought. It’s there at the far right, in a binder, and it was a photo of some kind of mock-up, I think, to display Kenner’s first 12 Star Wars figures. Cropped and lightened and flipped, here’s the best close-up I can manage:

Man, I just think things like that are So. Freaking. Neat.

I only have the three photos, but they’re here in my Old-school Star Wars Flickr set, along with their larger original versions and the close-ups.

February 5, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return of the JediCon WV – Episode VII

You know what snuck up on me?

JediCon West Virginia VII is this Saturday! (That’s October 9, 2010, starting at 10 a.m., at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum.)

I really enjoyed my first trip to Wheeling for the 2009 show, so I happily accepted the invitation to share some more Collect All 21! memories this fall – and check THIS out: Former Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons – “The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker” – is not only coming back to this year’s JediCon, he designed this amazing toy-populated Empire Strikes Back-inspired poster as a commemorative bonus:

JediCon WV VII poster by Kim Simmons.

I mean, come ON – that’ s just Too. Freaking. Cool.

Kim will be giving another retrospective on his Kenner years, and Star Wars animator Jon Seay is expected to attend with some pieces of the original Death Star to show off. Besides, how much of an excuse do you need, really, to spend a fall day hanging out with some fellow Star Wars fans in a fun and truly nostalgia-inducing atmosphere?

October 4, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moviemaking, nostalgia and Star Wars toys

Fresh off last night’s world premiere of The Meat Locker (an incredibly fun evening about which I’ll write more when I can share the movie online), and on the brink of leaving for Star Wars Celebration V on Monday, it seems a good time to share this bit of nostalgia:

That’s a scrap from the floor of my room in the house where I grew up. My youngest brother and his family live there now, and they’re replacing this carpet – which, it should be noted, is the only original remaining carpet from when we moved into the house in 1976.

This particular piece includes the evidence from this recollection in Collect All 21! (Chapter – “Along A Different Path: Taking Star Wars into Our Own Hands”)

When I was in middle school, I fished our family’s old 8mm movie camera out of the crawlspace, shelled out my allowance for batteries and a light bulb and tried to make my own Star Wars films.

One winter, I took it outside in the snow, dug a makeshift Death Star trench – I added twists and turns to make it, you know, more exciting – and then filmed my own point-of-view attack run, never thinking that, duh, I was holding the camera by its handle – in other words, upside down.

I was a little more successful with the flick I made using my little brothers’ Scout Walker. I managed to do some fairly steady stop-motion animation of the AT-ST’s head rotating back and forth, its side guns twitching up and down, and then I had my brother Adam work its legs, stomping them up and down while I shot a close-up. Then we stop-motioned the top hatch opening and a Scout Trooper emerging (okay, he didn’t so much “emerge” as he popped into existence from one frame to the next) and then – gasp! – quick cut to a skyward shot and a streaking meteor that was, in actuality, a lava rock my parents had brought me back from their 15th anniversary trip to Hawaii. And again, not so much streaking against the sky as being dropped by my brother with my textured white ceiling in the background.

Poor trooper never saw it coming. Caught it on the noggin, and… as the black haze closed in on his battle-scarred mind, he barely felt his walker toppling, its legs crumpling, never to stride into war again.

Aaaaaaaaand – scene.

Trooper down!

The four-minute film reel containing this 30- or 40-second masterpiece survived long enough to make it onto a DVD we compiled as a Christmas present for Mom a couple decades later. Holding up the cardboard sign labeled “Assistant: Adam Booth,” – I’d taken top billing as director and cameraman, naturally – my youngest brother looks like he’s squinting into binary suns, the lamp on the movie camera’s so freaking bright. We actually melted a tennis-ball-sized circle of carpet during filming when I accidentally put the bulb housing on the floor after a shot.

It’s actually probably closer to racquetball-sized, for the record. And I can still remember the sour plasticky smell that tipped me off to the puff of smoke rising from my bedroom floor, and how for years afterward I would pick absentmindedly at the little misshapen fused lumps of carpet fiber.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Family history, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s A Major Awarrrggghd

First, I need to give credit – This was Kelsey’s idea.

She came into my office last night and saw Chewie’s leg sitting on a shelf. Five inspired, scrambling minutes later:

Fra-gee-lay. Must be Italian.

Old Man Attichitcuk LOVED this thing.

We really wanted to add the appropriate audio and were dismayed to find that somewhere between the last time we watched our DVD of A Christmas Story and last night, someone cleaned the disc with a belt sander. We were forced to improvise using an adjacent laptop and couldn’t get the sound levels we really wanted, but still, we had fun:

And yes, there is more than a bit of pride in my voice when I say, “That’s my daughter’s handiwork.”

April 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Film, geek | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Survivor types

Pure nostalgia, man. Pure. Freaking. Nostalgia.

My original Kenner X-Wing – the second Star Wars ship I ever had, right after my Landspeeder (Dead these many years, The Maker rest its plastic soul.)  – and the long-lost Greedo figure I found behind our family’s deep freezer on one of my trips back to Ohio in the early 1990s.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chewie’s back on duty.

"You know that feeling when you reach THAT part of walking into a cold pool? Yeah. Tell me about it."

Galactically-recognized Giant Vintage Chewie Snow Scale

Giant vintage Kenner Chewbacca reported to his post at approximately 9 p.m. EST Fri. Feb. 5, when the snowfall had reached the point pictured. For the record, his monitoring position was devoid of snow earlier in the day.

He has been instructed to radio Echo Base immediately if Mr. Tumnus shows up.

"Send Rogues 10 and 11 to Station 38 with some Turkish Delight."

February 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, geek, Ohio | , , , | 3 Comments

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