Star Wars Scrapbook
My First Star Wars Action Figure
Even thirty-seven years later, I can remember my first glimpse of a Kenner Star Wars action figure. It was at my house in the spring of 1978, with the sun streaming in the kitchen windows. The lawn outside finally a vibrant green after a cold and especially snowy Kentucky winter. Occasionally, when no one was looking, I would climb up on the avocado green kitchen counter to look into the dark brown cabinet beside the refrigerator. I don’t recall what I was looking for that day, but I remember vividly what I found while exploring up there. As I stood up on the counter, I spotted something on top of the refrigerator — a Chewbacca action figure in his transparent bubble on the soon-to-be familiar Star Wars card. I couldn’t resist. I had to have a closer look. Taking the toy in my hand, I looked at the plastic representation of Han Solo’s copilot, comparing his likeness (or lack thereof) to the picture on the front of the card. “What is this doing up here?” I wondered to myself. I kneeled down on the counter, holding the treasure in my hands in order to inspect it more closely with help from the bright sunlight coming through the dual windows over the kitchen sink. I had never seen anything so intriguing in my life. I wanted to tear open the package and play with the toy, but I knew I had found something I wasn’t supposed to know about, and if I opened it, Mom would know I had broken her rules about climbing up on the counter again. Exhibiting her psychic prowess yet once more, at the very moment I was returning my discovery to its former resting place, my mother came into the kitchen and caught me red-handed!
“What are you doing up there?” she asked in a tone that revealed she knew exactly what I was doing and what I had found.
“Look what I found!” I exclaimed, my youthful exuberance unable to invent a lie to avoid the trouble that would inevitably follow. I handed her the toy, an unstoppable smile on my face, and she took it into her hands and looked at it with an feigned expression of interest.
After a couple of moments of my gibbering on and on about Chewbacca, who he was, and why this would be a great toy for me, she reached up to the top of the refrigerator, replaced the toy, and took me in her arms to put me back down on the kitchen floor where I belonged. She explained to me that I wasn’t to tell anyone about what I had seen, especially my brother, since his birthday was coming in just a few days. She also sternly warned me not to venture back to look at the toy again, implying that it was for my brother and I shouldn’t spoil his surprise. She sent me out of the kitchen so she could continue her cleaning in preparation for my brother’s birthday party.
At this point, you need to know that until that time, birthdays had been a relatively minor event in my home. When one of our birthdays rolled around, after dinner we would have a cake to celebrate with the family. Once the candles were blown out, a present would be given to the birthday boy or girl, and we would then go back to our regular activities. This year was going to be different, though. My mother had explained to all us kids that starting with my brother, each one of us would have a party on our tenth birthday with our friends. It would be a big event, and my brother’s party would come that weekend. As excited as my sister and I were about this news, we must have been a little disappointed that our parties wouldn’t come for some years later. I was somewhat more satisfied about my participation in my brother’s birthday, though, since I now shared a secret about what would most certainly be the greatest gift he would get that year.
The day of the party arrived. My brother’s friends, mostly his classmates and fellow Cub Scouts, came over to the house, each bearing a gift for the occasion. It was noisy in the house and out of the house as excited ten year-olds ran amok until the time came for cake, a song, and the opening of presents. At that point, I watched anxiously from the next room to see my brother’s expression when he saw Chewbacca. But he never opened any Star Wars gifts. Chewbacca was nowhere to be seen. Worried that something was missing, I went over to my mother and started to ask her if she had forgotten the surprise. Putting a finger to her lips to silence me, she beckoned me and my sister into the den and handed a small gift to each of us. Knowing that she still always gives something small to siblings of birthday boys and girls when she is invited to parties these days, I can only surmise that she had gotten each of us a gift so we wouldn’t be disappointed seeing our brother flooded with presents from his friends, knowing that we would have to wait years for our own parties. We opened our packages excitedly, and while I don’t remember what my sister got that day, I remember what mine was…
Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had inadvertently discovered my own present on top of the refrigerator that day!
What are some of your best memories of Star Wars in your youth? Comment below or tweet me @shazbazzar #StarWarsScrapbook with your Star Wars memories.