Podraces, Porgs, and Prop Replicas: Our Favorite Star Wars Stuff

Star Wars is kind of a big deal. We’re not sure you noticed.

Truth is, Star Wars has become such a cultural juggernaut that you can find it pretty much anywhere at all times. It’s not just a thing to celebrate on May the 4th—if anything, May 4th is just an opportunity to jump around and shout about something that we already spend an abundance of time jumping around and shouting about. But because Star Wars is so omnipresent, some of the stuff we love about it is… weird. And random. Or maybe a little awkward.

So without further ado, we bring you a list of our favorite Star Wars stuff. Any old stuff. The strange and the non sequitur and the arcane.

 

Lightsaber Props and Sabine Wren’s Graffiti Art

Sabine Wren and her glorious TIE Fighter

One of my greatest Christmases was the year I asked my parents for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, specifically. That sparked a pretty long affair with lightsaber prop replicas and I’ve since upgraded to a fancier version of Luke’s ROTJ saber (which fits my hands better, since it doesn’t need space inside for a plastic collapsable green cone), but I’ve got others, too. Lightsaber hilts are weirdly like art, created by Jedi to their express needs and purposes out of an incredible variety of materials. And being something of a nerd about weaponry as art—ancient art history was very much my jam in college—it hits all my specific geekery buttons.

In a similar vein where art is concerned, I have to bring up Sabine Wren’s guerrilla graffiti, especially her mark used for the Phoenix Squadron, which eventually morphed into the Rebellion’s symbol. We often forget that great upheaval begets art as a key manner in which people process change, trauma, and the need for expression. There are so many things that I adored about Star Wars: Rebels, but Sabine’s art became the heart and soul of that show. She painted her friends and her family, she painted symbols of resistance, she painted to piss off the Empire. It was uplifting in the truest sense of the words. The more art I see in Star Wars, the happier I’ll be.

Oh, and shout out to my covert school cosplays that I did with friends during grade school. That was our Star Wars stuff, cobbled together from closets and thrift stores and mall purchases. We rocked it. –Emily

 

Lucas Learning and Leia-as-Boushh Funko POP

Growing up in Marin County, the influence of Star Wars was everywhere, from the local movie theater referred to as George Lucas’ “favorite” where we would see every new movie, to seeing the man himself in flannel at the annual county fair not far from my house, to the Fourth of July fireworks at said fair that were always scored to John Williams.

But much as I loved living a short drive from Endor, what made “Lucas Country” especially appealing to me was the behind-the-scenes aspect—like with Lucas Learning. A spinoff of LucasArts, it was a company to create educational games, but I knew it as the name for the playtesting sessions that I got to participate in as a kid. For weeks, every day after school and Girl Scout troop meetings, I’d get to go to the LucasArts offices, playtest one of their video games for hours, and give my feedback. Our reward for our time was visiting the Merch Closet, filled floor-to-ceiling with shirts, action figures, and other random merchandise; my favorite get was a deck of embossed metal Dark Empire trading cards. But being a part, however small, of the creative process behind a piece of the Star Wars universe was the real reward.

May the 4th Star Wars Day favorite Star Wars things Dark Empire trading cards Lucas Learning

That said, there was one figure I never found in that closet, that haunted me for over a decade: One day I walked into the local Toys R Us, saw the action figure of Leia as the bounty hunter Boushh, and didn’t buy it. When I returned a few days later with cash in hand, that figure was long-gone—of course it was, it was so badass. Sure, there variations aplenty on Leia’s famous white dress (cloth and plastic versions) and buns, but this look was unique: her disguise to infiltrate Jabba’s palace and save Han, the identity she almost lost herself in in Shadows of the Empire, the princess walking the bounty hunter walk and talking the bounty hunter talk with that thermal detonator.

May the 4th Star Wars Day favorite Star Wars things Leia Boushh Funko POP figure

This was pre-Internet, and by the time I got online it didn’t even occur to me to search for the figure. But two years ago, while browsing the Funko POP displays at a random store in Marin, I came across Boushh again! And now she sits on my desk along with Cosima from Orphan Black and Batgirl—my own SFF girl squad watching over my work. –Natalie

 

My Porg!

I am very susceptible to cute things, so I’ll admit it: when the Porgs first showed up in the promos for The Last Jedi, I was skeptical. How dare you try to manipulate me with these absurdly cute shrieking creatures, Star Wars franchise? But then… I saw the movie. And holy crap were the Porgs even cuter that I had been led to believe. I crumbled and fell to their charms immediately, and was soon cooing over every piece of porg fan art I could find. So when my partner presented me with a life-sized, huggable, SKRAWWWKING Porg of my very own, reader, I lost my shit. And then I immediately texted photos of the Porg to my coworkers here at Tor.com, and brought the Porg to work for them all to enjoy.

Eventually I’ll take him back home, but for now it’s really nice to have a Porg to hug in between writing hot takes about death and space and stuff. I might be hugging him RIGHT NOW. –Leah

 

Star Wars Episode I: Racer

There is one prequel topic that is my hill to die on: the podracing sequence is awesome. It looks cool, and it sounds cooler—the way the score just drops out for much of the race is absolutely what makes it work. Forget the “cute” kid, the predictable results, the admittedly repetitive clashes, the annoying announcers. Just tune them out. It’s the scenery and the intensity and the goddamn sound design.

So of course I love Star Wars Episode I: Racer, which, let’s be honest, is just called the podracing game. No one has ever said that full title with anything resembling seriousness.

I endlessly played the podracing game on my Nintendo 64, my very first game console, the one I got after growing addicted to a former roommate’s copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (the best game ever made). (I grew up without a TV in the house. I played a lot of Commodore 128 games. Don’t judge me.) I played alone, coming home late on weekends and not ready to sleep just yet. I raced for hours against my roommate’s unemployed boyfriend, who was so often on our sofa. Sure, Mario Kart 64 was also fun, but this was Star Wars. I souped up my racer and determined to stop banging into the cliff walls. I lost races and immediately determined to win the next ones. I found shortcuts without having to look them up online.

That’s the entire narrative of this game: Win. And I wanted to win, to experience that particular Star Wars exultance that the prequels failed to supply. The game was fun in a way that The Phantom Menace was not fun, and it countered that disappointment for me. It let me get back in the story, the way I had when I was small and didn’t even know which character I wanted to grow up to be. (All of them, probably.) The familiarity of a racing game crossed with my deep-seated love for Star Wars set me up to love the repetition: Win, lose, whatever. Just let me go again.

I also feel this way about playing as Mara Jade in Masters of Teräs Käsi. Anyone still have an original PlayStation? –Molly

 

AT-ST Driver

Full disclosure: I am not a life-long Star Wars fan. I came to the series on the late side (like, RIGHT before the prequels came out) and while I liked them then, I didn’t grow to love them until multiple rewatchings in college. Which is all to say that I didn’t grow up with Star Wars stuff—no bedsheets, no clothing, and certainly no toys from a galaxy far far away. But my partner did, and now I can live vicariously through a three-inch hunk of molded gray plastic.

Somehow, the one toy that’s survived the years and various cross-country moves is this unassuming AT-ST driver. And I love it; I love how well-worn it is around the edges, even though it makes his face look ghoulish; I love how ridiculous it is that they made a toy out of literally every character in the movies; but mostly I love how this 30-year old toy has worked its way into my daily life. See, at some point my partner and I got in the habit of hiding it for each other in unexpected places. He currently sits among our spices, but has also been known to hang out inside coffee mugs, potted plants, and underwear drawers… –Sarah

 

Mystical Ewok Presents with Mysterious Backstories

Logray dispenses the mystical swag...

I’ve already confessed my love for Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure at least once on the site, mainly to talk about how the opening scenes of the sequel, 1985’s Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, really messed me up as a kid. But what kind of self-respecting six-year-old is going to let a little trauma and/or parent-murdering get in the way of a full-blown Ewok obsession? I wore out the VHS tapes of both of these movies as a kid, before we ever had copies of A New Hope or the rest of the original trilogy in my house, so the Ewoks were more of a gateway to Star Wars for me than anything else.

Personally, I would have happily lived in the Ewok village on the forest moon of Endor, hanging out with Wicket and his cool toys and random pet ferrets, for all eternity, but of course the plot of Caravan of Courage requires that the kids and their furry pals head out on a quest/rescue mission, so off they go. But before they hit the road, the village shaman, Logray, performs a ceremony in which each member of the titular caravan is given one of the “Sacred Tokens of the Legendary Ewok Warriors”—there’s the Candle of Pure Light, the White Wings of Hope, the Red Wings of Courage, the Blue Wings of Strength, a weird rock, a cool crystal, and a funky ivory tooth. (Incidentally, you can read Emily’s spectacular piece discussing both movies in more detail here, if none of this is ringing any bells…)

I can’t explain why I was obsessed with this scene, but I definitely was, constantly forcing my younger brother to play “Ewok Adventure” (which was basically just me ceremoniously distributing rocks and feathers and whatever cool junk I’d found that day and then jumping frantically on all the furniture in the living room like we were being chased by a troll monster.) So, yeah—judge me all you want for loving Ewoks, but if Disney ever announces a Legendary Ewok Warriors prequel series, I’ll be Yub Nubbing my way all the way to the front of the line, waiting to find out how that weird tooth factored in to the misty, myth-laden history of Ewok civilization… –Bridget

 

We’ve shown you ours, now tell us in the comments some of the weird things you all love about Star Wars!

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