A Grand Army of One (or Two)
|I was re-arranging my Emperor’s Arrival display theother day and realized I had a small army of Stormtroopers in it. A glance to another shelf a group of six Sandtroopers had detained a landspeeder with Luke, Ben and the droids. And I’m not even going to start on the clone troopers from the newer films. All this got me to thinking about the days before army builders, repaints, and before Episode 6 was even released.
I was captivated by Star Wars before I’d even seen the first film. I was about six when the film came out. I remember I had a “Story of Star Wars” book with pictures and would endlessly flip through it. Then the action figures came out. Somebody at school had brought a couple of figures to class. I thought they were pretty cool, and really wanted some of my own.
The trouble was we lived about 20 minutes from the nearest stores of any size and only went on the weekends. That, weekend, my parents took me to a couple of stores, and in the last store (K-mart, I think), we found the last two figures they had. So, at that point Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper became my first two Star Wars figures. A week or so later my collection increased to include some of the heroes, and grew from there.
As new figures would come out, I’d want each of the new ones. My parents weren’t real hip to buy a bunch of figures at one time, so I’d get a couple of new characters when I saw them. This would always lead to some decision making in the store. Rating the merits of a Bespin Han Solo over an Ugnaught. However, because I wanted new figures, I never asked for something like extra Stormtroopers.
Somewhere along the line I got a second Stormtrooper as a gift. The really strange thing is two seemed to by the most I ever had of the same figure in vintage times. To be exact, I had two Stormtroopers, two Death Star Troopers, two Jawas, two Sandpeople and inexplicably two Princess Leias. When the Empire Strikes Back figures were released I got two Hoth Stormtroopers and two Rebel Troopers.
So, the sum of my front line Imperial troops was 6. When playing as a kid, it wasn’t unusual for Snowtroopers to show up on the sands of Tatooine riding a Dewback. Snowtroopers and Stormtroopers did it all back then. They’d man the man the control consoles in the Death Star. They’d take duty at the big gun. Which was a cushy Stormtrooper job, because you’d get a cool chair to sit in. They’d fly TIE fighters, because the TIE Pilot hadn’t been released. When the AT-AT Driver was released he normally took over the gun duties at the Death Star, because he was used to sitting. Well, actually, I didn’t have an AT-AT or and AT-ST. I remember taking my AT-AT driver to a friends house once that had an AT-AT but not a driver.
I remember when I saw the first pictures of Return of the Jedi, how cool it would be to have enough figures to make the Emperor’s Arrival scene. I don’t know if that influenced my modern buying habits. But, for some strange reason, I tend to buy Stormtroopers and their kin two at a time.
My wife unknowingly rekindled a few of these memories a few years back. She had went to a local toy & comic book store looking for something to fill out my collection. She came home and presented me with a bag of various loose figures. All of them in white shiny armor. The first few were modern day Snow and Stormtroopers. The rest was made up of vintage Hoth Stormtroopers and regular Stormtroopers. I know there was no way to explain to her how happy I was that she’d doubled the size of my vintage “Grand Army.”