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May The Toys Be With You

Guest Contributor : Emily Shaw.

May the toys be with you! Yep, you read that right. Toys, not the Force. Toys.

It’s safe to say there is a diverse and amazing world of Star Wars toys. From the Kenner figures made with the original trilogy to the current Hasbro Black Series toys there are endless types, brands and portrayals of almost every Star Wars character and location. My own collection consists of the Funko POP! Figures, of which I have about 30. I have them all displayed around my room, and have recently found enjoyment taking photos with them, such as making my garden look like Hoth with the snow earlier this year and taking my Hoth Princess Leia figure out for some shots.

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Yet I have always had an interest in the figures and designs that accompanied the original trilogy at their release. There was just something about them, to me they seem so different to the figures now. None of these Hot Toys figures with changeable hands and faces. Just standard figures that could be used to create scenes from the movie or displayed in the now iconic packaging.

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This is where ‘May the toys be with you’ comes into play. A friend asked me if I had been to see the Star Wars exhibition on in Barnsley. No, I had no idea! (which shames me a bit as I am originally from Barnsley… oops). So here I turned to Google and soon found what I was looking for. ‘From a galaxy far, far away, an unmissable exhibition for Star Wars fans everywhere comes to Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre.’ Interested… very interested. So off I went, parents in tow, we ventured to Barnsley to have a look.
Located a mere 5-minute walk from the city centre, with plenty of signs to help locate the place.  We soon found the Museum, outside of which was a small black poster for the exhibit, with the outline of Yoda underneath. Once inside it was easy to find the room containing the collection which I was so excited to see.   The entrance way to the room had the iconic scroll text from the films opener, then as soon as you look through the door… Star Wars. Posters. Toys. Han Solo in Carbonite. Yep, even that shocking moment from Empire is on display, though luckily no Hutts were around to cause trouble.

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The exhibit was truly beyond my wildest dreams, I was so in awe of everything that I never wanted to leave. Although small, there is plenty within that will satisfy fans of all ages. One display that caught my attention was a mock-up of the battle of Hoth, with Han Solo on Tauntaun and an AT-AT walker that just drew your focus.  But once looking in detail, you could see things that, at a glance were missed.  Inside the turret was Princess Leia! The T-47 airspeeder had its tow cable attached to the leg of the AT-AT.  It was brilliant to see how the toys could be enjoyed even by simply displaying them to create scenes with so much depth.  Those trends of shock and surprise continued the entire time.

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Original quad posters for all the original films, including the short-lived Revenge of the Jedi, overseas versions and even a double bill showing. To be able to see the evolution of Star Wars toys just showed how the saga has evolved over the years, and even see similarities that still occur.  Modern ‘character’ posters are used to introduce the newer characters, usually with a singular image of each characters face, as used to depict those in Rogue One in 2016.  Yet here was a quad poster from 1977 showing Princess Leia in the centre and underneath a quick description of the character which just reminded me so much of the modern posters and capped off the exhibition by showing how far the toys of Star Wars have changed.

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Every area of the exhibit revealed more, Han Solo’s Blaster, Kenner figures in amazing displays, even an inflatable Lightsaber.  One of the displays that caught my attention was a Toltoys Death Star, made of cardboard with all the figures positioned inside. It felt strange to see this and compare in my head to the types sold today, plastic or Lego versions that quite often seem to be more for display purposes than to be played with.

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To be able to see the history of Star Wars toys just showed how the saga has evolved over the years, and even see similarities that still occur. One section that also caught my interest was about the use of fake toys in online sales due to the value and rarity of some of these figures combined with the high demand. Which goes to show that sometimes… It’s a Trap!!  Thankfully, that is not the case with this exhibit which brilliantly displays toys and posters from the original era of Star Wars.

May the Force Toys be with you!

May the toys be with you is on display at Experience Barnsley until July 15th with free admission and is open daily. At peak times, the admission will be by ticket so it is best to check the website if travelling on a busy day.

Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre, Town Hall, Church Street, Barnsley, S70 2TA. www.experience-barnsley.com 01226 772500

When she is not collecting Star Wars merch, Emily can be found supporting the Vancouver Canucks, in the middle of a good book, or watching Star Wars.  Follow Emily on Instagram.

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