My Star Wars Story

I was a child of the Dark Times. Born in 1986, I came into the world at a time when Star Wars seemed like a thing of the past. It had been three years since Return of the Jedi was in theatres, and there was no real Expanded Universe to speak of. Even toy stores were devoid of Star Wars merchandise for the first decade of my life. Instead, I was raised on a healthy diet of Transformers, Micro Machines, and Lego - ironically, three toy lines that would all partner up with Star Wars in the coming years.

My Star Wars collection as it appears today. You can see more images on the My Collection page.

Instead, the only Star Wars toy I owned for the first nine years of my life was a 1985 Power of the Force Romba that somehow snuck its way into my toy bin. It was fitting, really - given that my first introduction to the saga was the Ewok films. They regularly played as midday movies during school breaks, though I struggle now to remember anything more than being distraught to the point of tears when Cyndal had to finally farewell Wicket at the end of The Battle for Endor. I had no idea that those films were set within a much larger universe. My only real knowledge of Star Wars was snatched and fleeting - a one-page advert for an AT-AT kitset model in a Batman comic, or a cursory glance at the Return of the Jedi Storybook in my school library.

For the most part, the saga managed to escape my notice until 1996 when - on my parents' recommendation - I sat down to watch A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back as part of an Easter weekend television double-feature on television. I was nine-years-old, and life would never be the same again.

Star Wars had everything a kid my age could want: cowboys, wizards, spaceships, and swordfights - all in a dirty, used universe filled with bizarre creatures and aliens. But, most importantly, Luke's yearning for adventure spoke to me on a deeply personal level. Don't get me wrong - I had the best childhood anyone could ever ask for. But having grown up in a small town in a small country, I was keenly aware of a much larger world waiting out there. If there was a bright centre of the universe, then my hometown was the place it was farthest from. As Luke stared off into the binary sunset I felt a connection unlike any I'd ever experienced before. I was only a kid, but I got it.

While many movies might win our affections, Star Wars demands something more. For many of us, it inspires a deep and abiding devotion through which the films transcend entertainment and become a defining part of who we are. Ever since that fateful Easter weekend, Star Wars - and Star Wars collecting - has been an integral thread running through my life, tying together disparate experiences of people and places. My collection is far more than just a bunch of plastic figures and spaceships. It's a tangible record of memories spanning the last twenty-four years of my life.

A newspaper clipping for that fateful first viewing. (Image courtesy of

Following that first viewing, I was immediately filled with a desperate need to tell my own stories in the Star Wars universe. It was the middle of our two-week Easter term break, so I devoted my next few days to creating micro-scaled Star Wars vehicles out of Lego (this was three years before the two properties officially joined forces). First up was my own interpretation on a Star Destroyer that - while lacking in girth - somehow managed to be almost three feet in length. Next up was an X-Wing, a TIE Fighter, and - for some reason - a bright yellow Millennium Falcon. Later that week a roadtrip with my parents took me via a Toyworld nestled at the base of the Stratford Glockenspiel. There, I made an earth-shattering discovery: Micro Machines made Star Wars vehicles.

So it came to be that I used my entire savings (along with a generous top-up contribution from my parents) to buy an Action Fleet Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. For a short time, I had to fill out my galactic battles with variously coloured army men and some futuristic Hot Wheels vehicles - but as the months went by I soon added more Star Wars Micro Machines vehicles and playsets to my collection. I also delved into Kenner's newly relaunched line of 3 3/4" Star Wars figures with a Power of the Force Darth Vader. He was promptly joined by Luke Skywalker, and the pair stood alongside that Romba until they were joined by a handful more figures that Christmas.

The Special Editions arrived the following year, giving me my first chance to see Star Wars on the big screen. The Dark Times were officially over. The original trilogy had been introduced to an entirely new generation, and stores were once again filled with merchandise. Best of all, new Star Wars stories were being told in other formats. My grandmother bought me a copy of Heir to the Empire, and I took my first step into the larger world of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. My imagination was further fueled by the Shadows of the Empire multimedia release - a wonderfully ambitious project that still remains one of my favourite parts of the EU. I read the comics, collected the toys, and played the game on my newly acquired Nintendo 64 (when I wasn't running around the Facility level in Goldeneye with power weapons, of course). Before long, my collection had grown to fill several shelves in my bedroom.

My Star Wars collection, circa 1997.

By the time The Phantom Menace came around, my fascination had gone from hobby to full-blown obsession. When I was forced to have dental extractions at the age of twelve, it was the gift of a CommTech Reader from my parents that consoled me. My grandmother visited me later that day and gave me my first CommTech figure: Mace Windu. Any tooth-related misery was soon forgotten. I subsequently fell even further into the 3 3/4" line, and my collection continued to grow - migrating to a second-hand display case that I inherited from my mum's old bridal gown business.

My Star Wars collection, circa 1999. My entry in the Lego Star Wars 'Galactic Challenge Building Contest' can be seen on the right in front of the Vader mask.

Lego and Star Wars officially joined forces that same year, and I soon purchased my first set - a Naboo Starfighter. A few months later I entered an original creation in the Lego Star Wars 'Galactic Challenge Building Contest' (seen atop my display case in the image above). I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the ten national New Zealand finalists, netting me a Lego Anakin's Podracer as a prize and a weekend away for the national finals at the newly-constructed Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. 

The Phantom Menace led to an infamous glut of Star Wars merchandise in stores - something I took full advantage of. My family and I happened to be in Wanganui when the local Kmart reduced all of their Star Wars stock to a quarter of its original price. I picked up some great bargains that day, and so did my parents and grandma - stocking up for future birthday and Christmas presents. In fact, Star Wars products quickly (and welcomingly) became the go-to gift for me for all occasions. I even remember the highlight of my 2000 Easter basket being a tiny die-cast model of Queen Amidala's Royal Starship.

It wasn't long before Star Wars collecting also gave me the opportunity to see some remarkable acts of human kindness. To mark the release of The Phantom Menace, New Zealand company Bluebird Foods released a set of gold-bordered glow-in-the-dark cardsThere were thirty cards in total, with two placed in every 12 bag multi-pack of Bluebirds chips. The promotion ran for a couple of months but - since I only got through one of those packs every fortnight - my chances of completing the set were incredibly slim. I was twelve years old at the time, and proudly wore my love for Star Wars on my sleeve. It turns out the kids at my school had noticed this. Over the following weeks, a number of my classmates began delivering stacks of these cards to me. It turns out they'd been buying chips too. Each day I'd be asked which cards I was missing, and there was a genuine sense of excitement when someone managed to find a card that I was still looking for. I soon built up a full set thanks to that awesome bunch of people.

My completed collection of Episode I Bluebird collector cards.

Around the same time, KFC ran an Episode I promotion that involved the release of six different toys over six consecutive weeks. I dutifully went in each weekend, purchasing one of their kids' meals and adding a new toy to my collection. Unfortunately, on my sixth visit, I discovered that the final toy had only been given a limited release and randomly distributed throughout the previous weeks. It looked like my collection was going to remain incomplete. For the staff member serving me, however, that simply wasn't good enough. He searched high-and-low throughout the store before finally finding one of the toys unwrapped and set up as a display piece on his manager's desk. He nabbed it, and passed it to me with a conspiratorial wink. There's a very good reason why - to this day - KFC remains one of my favourite takeaway chains.

My Dad designed school buildings for a living, and I would often spend chunks of my school holidays hanging out with him at work - whiling away my hours drawing spaceships, writing short stories, and playing Ken's Labyrinth and Prince of Persia on a spare Intel 286. He'd regularly make site visits to schools throughout the North Island of New Zealand, and I'd always tag along for the ride. On those journeys, he'd be sure to check in at every small town toy store - helping me track down bargains and rarer items that weren't easily available back home. To this day, the sight of those many finds - a Power of the Force Imperial Probe Droid, a Lego Twin-Pod Cloud Car, or a Phantom Menace C-3PO rescued from the clearance bin of a small-town pharmacy - still bring back a flood of fond memories of those road trips with my Dad.

Star Wars also inspired my ingenuity. When I couldn't afford the enormous 'Boonta Eve Classic' racetrack for my Micro Machines podracers, I improvised - constructing my own track out of papier-mâché, sand, and a test pot of paint from the local hardware store. In fact, I became pretty good at finding ways to stretch my limited collecting budget. Once I was in high school, I managed to talk my way onto the team of volunteers who ran the second-hand book stall for our annual fundraising gala. The role came with one very important perk: first refusal on any of the incredibly cheap books for sale. There were always a handful of Star Wars items hiding among the towers of paperbacks, and each year's gala gave me the chance to further expand my collection of Expanded Universe novels.

As time went by, Star Wars opened my eyes to the wider world of space fantasy and science fiction. I was no stranger to some franchises (a decent chunk of my persona was developed through repeated viewings of Back to the Future as a child), but I found myself developing a newfound hunger for film and television rooted in the fantastical. Fortunately, the mid- to late-'90s were a wonderful time for a pre-teen boy to discover such a passion. There was Jurassic Park, Stargate, Independence Day, Men in Black, Lost in Space, Godzilla, and Small Soldiers (just to name a few). On television, I became utterly obsessed with Stargate SG-1 - a show that premiered as I started middle school and acted as a constant companion well into my early college years. Following this, I developed a taste for other fare like Doctor WhoLost, and - most notably - Firefly. Star Wars would always have my heart, but it introduced me to many new flames along the way.

The World Wide Web came to our home in 2002 and introduced me to the international fan community for the first time. This was back when the internet was dial-up, and bandwidth was paid for by the hour (yes, really). We got ten hours per month, and I used a decent portion of our March allowance downloading the new trailer for Attack of the Clones.

It was around this time that my friends and I discovered the wonders of pen-and-paper roleplaying games. Most of our adventures took place in the fantastical world of Rolemaster, but I also ran my own Star Wars roleplaying campaign for five of my friends. They were an odd bunch - a Force-sensitive bounty hunter, a Dark Jedi, a Shi'ido assassin, a Besalisk soldier, and a lab experiment gone wrong - but we spent nearly three years weaving our very own Star Wars story together. My action figures and Micro Machines vehicles also discovered a new lease on life as they were used to act out our adventures in painstaking detail.

In my final year of high school, my mum won a first-generation XBox console through her workplace Christmas raffle. It came packed with the original Halo (a game which ate up much of my pre-college summer vacation) but it also opened the doorway to a whole new world of Star Wars video games, including the original two Battlefronts, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast, and the phenomenally immersive Knights of the Old Republic games.

My Star Wars collection, circa 2004 - just before I started college.

In 2005 I moved to Wellington, New Zealand to attend college. On the roadtrip there, I visited a miniature Lego Star Wars exhibition and picked up a deluxe copy of the New Hope soundtrack - marking an auspicious start to my Star Wars adventures in a new city. I’d grown up in a town with only three toy retailers, but now found myself in a city filled with countless new sources of Star Wars merchandise. At the centre of it all was Manners Mall: an outdoor pedestrian plaza teeming with independent book, music, and collectible stores. The presence of a KFC, a video arcade, and a 1920s multi-plex theatre further secured Manners as the go-to haunt of my buddies and I. The mall was bulldozed in 2010 to make way for a new bus route and a collection of upmarket fashion stores - but for those first few years of college, it was a mecca for my ever-growing pop culture obsession. 

Many of the stores in Wellington stocked lines that had never even made it to my hometown - including Wizards of the Coast’s new Star Wars Miniatures. I was already an avid wargamer, having spent most of my high school years commanding a horde of Warhammer Lizardmen and a company of Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Space Marines. Further, the similarities of Star Wars Miniatures with the now-defunct Action Fleet line made them an easy sell. I introduced three of my closest friends to the game, and we went on to spend many long nights playing out battles in my dorm room; our epic military campaigns fuelled by a plentiful supply of fish and chips, cheap beer, and Audioslave albums blasting on my portable CD player.

Our first Star Wars Miniatures battle (images courtesy of my grainy 2005-era phone camera).

The (then) final film in the saga was released that same year, giving me the opportunity to attend my first Star Wars midnight premiere. That December, I celebrated my 19th birthday with my friends by marathoning all six Star Wars films back-to-back for the first (but certainly not last) time at home.

The 501st Legion were out in force for the midnight premiere of Revenge of the Sith.

During my time in Wellington, I had the opportunity to attend a plethora of Star Wars-related events - including preview screeningstoy fairsart exhibitions, and sci-fi conventions featuring stars from both the classic and prequel films. I even had the chance to see a one-man Star Wars trilogy.

As I progressed through college - and moved from flat to flat - the bulk of my collection stayed back in my hometown, expanding to completely take over my old bedroom. Along the way, I purchased a set of glass display units and rescued an old set of shelves from my Dad's office in order to better display my new acquisitions. On my weekends and summers back from college, my mum and I would go garage sale hunting. This was, after all, in a time before online auctions were commonplace, and when finding second-hand treasures required a little more legwork. It became a sacred ritual: Every Saturday morning we'd trawl through the garage section listings in our local paper, circling any that specifically listed 'toys' or 'books' among their wares. We'd then plot the addresses on a map, and hit them one-by-one, aiming for those that sounded the most promising first. I found all kinds of wonderful treasures on those mornings. Some weeks we'd come home with nothing, but other weeks we'd hit the jackpot.

In 2010 I graduated from law school, and my parents gave me an eFX Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper helmet to celebrate. Unbeknownst to them, that gift set in motion a series of events that would eventually see me complete a childhood dream: building my very own suit of Stormtrooper armour. Along the way, I'd also get the chance to repurpose and customise a Power of the Force 2 blaster rifle that my grandmother had given me all the way back in 1998.

My completed stormtrooper armour.

It wasn't my first foray into Star Wars costuming. I'd put together a rudimentary Dark Jedi outfit in high school - the highlight of which was a spectacular hooded cloak sewn by my mum. During my penultimate year of college I'd also had the chance to play Luke Skywalker (albeit in a rented costume) at a five-year-old's birthday party.

A few months prior to my graduation, I started this blog as a way of sharing my collection and latest Star Wars finds with others. It was 2009, and things felt very different in Star Wars fandom. It was several years since Revenge of the Sith's release - and while the Clone Wars series was still going strong, we all knew that it's lifespan was limited. Few fans thought that Star Wars would disappear completely, but many of us became resigned to the fact that it would no longer be in the public consciousness to the same extent. It truly felt as though the sun was setting on the saga. The Dark Times were back. In fact, it was that very feeling that - late one evening - made me decide on the banner image at the top of this site. This blog's name was similarly inspired. My collecting adventures were beginning to change. Stock in stores was beginning to dwindle, and even second-hand shops and garage sales were yielding fewer treasures. As a collector, it seemed as though items of Star Wars memorabilia were truly becoming relics of a time that had passed.

Nevetheless, the online Star Wars fan community was still strong - and this blog was my doorway into that world. The Star Wars New Zealand message boards went live in 2010, and I soon went from regular poster to staff writer for the main SWNZ webpage. I was lucky enough to have my collection showcased on that site, followed by features on and, and a brief cameo in one of HelloGreedo's videos.

Then came 2012. Disney purchased Lucasfilm and announced the impending release of an entirely new sequel trilogy. And the news didn't stop there. There would also be standalone films, which - in tandem with the new trilogy - would see us getting a new Star Wars film every year from 2015 onwards. There was a new animated series on the way too, this time set during the largely unexplored era between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The Expanded Universe would be rebooted, and a whole slate of new novels, comics, and games put into production. It was fortuitous timing. Just two months earlier, I’d moved to Houston, Texas to pursue my graduate studies - giving me access to an even wider range of collectibles not available on New Zealand shores. My Star Wars collecting had now gone international.

The saga's effect on my life certainly hasn't lessened over time. In fact, its biggest influence didn't come until 2016, when a shared passion for Star Wars (and talking about Star Wars online) brought my now-wife and I together - despite being separated by a distance of almost 9000 miles. Now we collect together, and make shared pilgrimages to Star Wars attractions like Legoland and the Power of Costume and Identities exhibitions. Along the way, she's widened my collecting focus - reigniting my love for Star Wars Lego, and introducing me to a raft of new lines like Forces of Destiny, Micro Force, and the Hasbro's 6" Black Series.

That nine-year-old kid who first stumbled across the saga dreamed of many fantastical things. But never in his wildest imaginings did he think he'd get to fall in love with a best friend who shared in his deepest passions. My Star Wars story is now our Star Wars story, and it's a story that's only just beginning.