Friday, May 9, 2008

Blue Sky Guest Of Honor: Star Wars Must Die...


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We're going to do something different in this post today...

My article on the future of Star Wars generated a lot of comments and some interesting e-mail. Many of them were filled with kind remarks while a few were laced with venom. I've had several discussions about the Star Wars universe with my friends in our get-togethers and over pizza and beer all these things get tossed around, argued and laughed about...

Well, one of my friends would like to respond to my article and more importantly, some of the SW fans out there. So as I said, we're going to do something a bit different. I've not had any guest columnist before... not yet at least. Not because I particularly was afraid of letting others have a voice, but because I just didn't really believe that there would be anything different or unique to add to the subjects discussed here... until now.

I know many of you think I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but I'm not. I mean, I love it and all... but some of my friends could far better be described as SW fans more than I. One of those fans is "THX-1138". Nice name, eh? You can imagine the ribbing he got from kids on the playground as a young boy... no? But seriously, that's not his name, but it's what he'll go by on Blue Sky Disney. Anyway, he's a much bigger and much more passionate fan of Star Wars than I could ever be. He has a few thoughts on George Lucas' universe and I thought you might like to hear his opinion...


- Honor Hunter
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I’m sick to death of $tar War$.

Ironically though, if you were to come over to my house that would probably be the last thing you would ever expect to hear me to say.

It’s been over 30 years now and I’ve devoted over half my life to collecting and faithfully following, through good times and bad, the mighty Star Wars franchise as a passion and hobby. I remember vividly the Great Drought in Star Wars collecting… that dreadful period between 1985 and 1995 where there wasn’t much of anything to be had with the Star Wars merchandising brand stamped onto it. I was about to enter high school and my mother had decided that it was time for me
to “grow up” and donated most of my old toys that would soon become collector gold. Fortunately I still had a Darth Vader collector case full of old figures in the basement that she had somehow overlooked but after a few years I wanted it all back and thus began my arduous quest to buy my childhood back. It was during that time that I would scour garage sales, flea markets and antique shops looking to buy anything that I could find from the vintage collecting years of my
youth. I would even have dreams about driving to small mid-west towns and finding an old local store that had a hidden cache of vintage mint-on-card figures that had been sitting on the shelves, undiscovered, for many years.

Then in 1995, that drought suddenly came to an end. Kenner released new Star Wars action figures. Sure, Luke looked like he had He-Man’s body and the face of actor Brian Thompson and Princess Leia looked like Zira from Planet of the Apes, but so what? They were Star Wars figures. The sculpts did improve tremendously over the years though. The Prequels may have been disappointing but there were some great toys that had vastly improved upon the original designs. It was a good time to be a collector again.

It’s now been over 3 years since the final Star Wars film was released and George Lucas just can’t seem to let it go. He’s overseeing production on the new Clone Wars animated TV show that will premiere theatrically this fall as well as a live-action Star Wars television series and the Lucasfilm merchandising bandwagon is once again in full, um… Force. What happened to Lucas getting back to making those obscure artistic and experimental films that “nobody wants to see” kind of like the films he made in his youth before he became a successful toymaker? He’s been too busy making a fourth and arguably unnecessary Indiana Jones film as well as overseeing that his money-making Star Wars dynasty lives on. Don’t worry, George. It will.

At what point, might I ask, is enough for Mr. Lucas? Star Wars is already a multi-billion dollar per year licensing franchise. Lucas has reached the age of retirement and doesn’t need to be concerned about getting his social security checks. His family will be well endowed for many generations but Lucas and Hasbro just can’t seem to have enough. Star Wars as a brand has run its course, the toy line has exhausted itself with endless repaints and repacks of the SAME toys we have already bought over and over. With strategies now shifting towards capturing newer generations under the addictive influence of their marketing control, The Clone Wars and live-action TV shows look to be little more than hyped-up commercial vehicles as an excuse to promote and sell more and more toys targeted for younger children rather than us older, faithful adult collectors with more juvenile servings of Galactic Heroes, Mighty Mugs, and Legos. With little room to keep buying these costly material possessions, and with my interest rapidly diminishing, gas prices and inflation skyrocketing out of control and collecting becoming more of a chore than genuine fun, I have at last reached my saturation point with Star Wars and it’s time for me to bow out. I’ve had my fill. My ravenous hunger has been satisfied. It’s time to put Star Wars to bed. I would suggest that Lucas does the same. Like Henry Jones said to Indiana in The Last Crusade… "Let it go.”

Star Trek invariably suffered a similar fate. The once mighty franchise had become oversaturated with numerous spinoffs,
disappointing sequels and a glut of merchandising that drove even the most insatiable Trekkies away. After only a brief four year hiatus, J.J. Abrams will boldly (or arrogantly) attempt to re-invent the wheel by remaking Star Trek in his vision. It would seem almost inevitable that at some point in the future, Lucasfilm , under the auspices of one of Lucas’ heirs-apparent or under the licensing control of another corporate entity (*cough* Disney), will attempt to do the same. I just hope when that day happens it will be long after I’m gone because it has now become very apparent that there is no end in sight for the
onslaught of Star Wars consumer merchandising and that it will continue indefinitely for generations to come. You can’t have it all and you can’t take it with you but if you're one of the Freaks who must continue to buy everything with the Star Wars brand stamped on it…

May the Benjamins be with you.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Traitor.

Anonymous said...

I hope George Lucas makes movies every year for now on. I will watch ALL of them! I have personally mailed him a letter asking him to make more. It has nothing to do with money, but love for the series. Why people have to complain about things that make others happy is beyond me!

Anonymous said...

I'm an avid Star Wars collector and have a modestly large collection of vintage and modern age toys.

I think the thing that bothers a lot of long time Star Wars collectors is that the current waves of figures are so vastly superior to the ones from the 90's. It makes their "collection" worth alot less than they would like.

Some of the criticism regarding endless repacks and repaints is pretty unfounded. My opinion is that no one is "making" you buy these figures... get the ones that you like and ignore the rest. Again these comments make me think that you care more about the value of your collection that the joy of collecting. Because repacks and repaints generally devalue existing releases.

You should remember that its not a matter of Lucas or Hasbro "letting go" of Star Wars. As long as there is a demand for Star Wars merchandise they will continue to make it. (And so they should!)

DC said...

So I assume the message is that Star Wars must die so George Lucas and Hasbro won't make any more money from it? That is brilliant, just brilliant. Instead of an informed, and informative commentary about why Star Wars should end, we got a whiny gripe about how much money George Lucas and Hasbro are making from it. I guess that will teach you to allow a guest columnist.

FattyJoe said...

And this has to do with Disney how?


(Sorry! I wasn't going to say anything, but all the other commenters (sp?) were already being mean, so I thought it wouldn't be a big deal if I added another one in that spirit...)

Anonymous said...

Why can't you guys just read this guy's opinion and take from it what you will? Instead you bitch about it like a bunch of whiney school girls. Grow up and realzie this is what makes people different. Otheriwse everybody would think the same and be a bunch of mindless dolts, on the other hand, I think that is what happened to the talkbackers, you are just as bad as THX-1138.

Spokker said...

"Why people have to complain about things that make others happy is beyond me!"

It's nothin' personal, kid.

While I certainly understand and maybe even agree with the article in principle, it doesn't really bother me much personally.

The original movies are still there. You can watch them as many times as you like. It really isn't the same as a theme park attraction being changed or going away forever. The new stuff doesn't really degrade the old stuff in any way. I would just ignore the new stuff.

But the new stuff isn't always so bad. Knights of the Old Republic, a video game based on the Star Wars universe, is actually better than the prequels in my opinion!

For every 10 clunkers, there's usually a good adaption I really enjoy.

Anonymous said...

What an incredible tool you are.

If you are seriously suggesting Lucas cool down the production of a product that still has a demand, then you know nothing about business. Every good property is run into the ground at some point, but they come back all new again. The Simpsons, Batman, Harry Potter, etc.. Hollywood doesn't stop because people had enough.

I think your reasons to end the franchise are weak. You're tired of it. Big deal. You're the boob that is buying action figures and seeing these movies. Put the light saber down and move on. You don't have to watch this. You don't have to protect the integrity of the original story. You're part of the problem by participating in the Star Wars franchise empire. Your words are weak when you let your dollars speak for you.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy everything that comes out, but every year or so there is an excellent must have coffee table book
(by the way, I just got the limited edition Ralph McQuarrie book, and it's wonderful) and occasionally there is a neat die cast toy, so I just look at them as being a tax that I must pay (willingly) because I'm a SW fan since 1977. I too wish George would make his experimental films now, but this new TV stuff is worth a look anyway.

Spokker said...

"If you are seriously suggesting Lucas cool down the production of a product that still has a demand, then you know nothing about business."

I guess Disney doesn't know business since they stopped all direct-to-video animated sequels such as "Cinderella 3".

Sometimes there are qualitive factors to consider, not just quantitive, such as brand image and quality. You can churn out more stuff, but sometimes the brand suffers.

And in the case of the Simpsons, you get guys like Harry Shearer who badmouth the series in public and suddenly have "scheduling constraints" when it's time to do a voice for the new franchise simulator ride.

Pixar understands why running franchises into the ground is bad. There will certainly be a Toy Story 3, but not all of their films get an automatic sequel just because they were popular. Iger already stated there would be no Ratatouille ride.

Anonymous said...

The article just seemed kind of pointless, unless it was just to see opinionated responses to an opinionated response. That seems to fit better on someones myspace blog than the usually better quality articles that are posted here.

MeTHinX someone needs to follow their own advice on letting things go. Star Trek never really has gone away and Star Wars certainly isn't going away, especially as long as Lucas is alive - and they shouldn't.

Holly Wood said...

I'm sure money is a motivator, but I think that George Lucas continues to do stuff to make the throngs of Star Wars fans happy. To me, the worst Star Wars is far superior to the best Anything Else.

For a collector, I can understand your feelings. For a general fan who just can't get enough... I say the more the merrier!

MTFBWY

Rook said...

Star Wars merchandising is definitely NOT exhausted, although I can see why burnout might be an issue for some individuals. I feel it myself from time to time, and I just jumped onto the collector bandwagon three years ago.

My advice is to go for quality over quantity. I used to strive for every action figure I could get my hands on, until, ultimately, I began to dread the arrival of the next figure.

There are a lot of high-end replicas out there that cost a pretty penny. But I'd rather have one Master Replicas Millenium Falcon than an entire run of Hasbro action figures.

And don't forget the awesome offerings from Sideshow Collectibles. Pick and choose, and you'll never lose faith.

The Star Wars universe is huge, and its possibilities for growth are nearly endless, with most of it unexplored. Don't give up hope for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, THX 1138. I am right there with you. I'm a life long collector and Star Wars fan who's stuck with it through cash-ins, disappointing prequels (except for III), and brand dilution, but I've finally had enough. The new Clone Wars cartoon (I refuse to call it a movie, whether it's released theatrically or not), the Star Wars Transformers, action figure repacks, EU nonsense, Galactic Heroes, those pointless peg-warming mini-Unleashed figures, the clones, clones, clones, clones, clones, clones. . .It's all just too much; and the brand is suffering and will continue to until enough of the base--like you and I--have woken up to the fact that abject crap is being peddled on a massive scale under the sole reason that it's very loosely based on some movies we grew up with and loved. And then, I agree, there will be the inevitable reboot(s). Star Wars needs a break.

bsmith13 said...

Wow. I thought I was the most bitter Star Wars fan on the planet. Nice to find out I was wrong.

I guess I don't really care as much as I used to. GL obviously has control issues and a persectution complex, so no one is going to change his mind about anything. There are so many other good movies out there, it's hard for me to get worked up about it.

Anonymous said...

Wow...you really CAN watch Star Wars too much. Either that or he inherited the "whining" gene from the Skywalker family, e.g. Luke...Seriously, man up, get back in your T-16 and start targetting some whomp rats back home!!

greg said...

It all comes down to dollars and cents, just like Disney. If the demand weren't there, Lucas wouldn't be spending a dime on it. In all trutth, the prequels didn't cost him a cent to produce because the profits from the special edition theatrical release (plus the $500 million pepsi gave him to market the prequels) more than paid for eps I thru III...so before video and dvd and the toys of monkey face leia, the prequels made 3.4 billion dollars theatrically. I 'm 40 and cannot wait for the animated series in theatres and the new live action show. The less George writes, the happier I'll be. I remember working at Disney in 2000 and they hinted then at a possible pod race type ride to replace Star Tours. I groaned and whispered to a co-worker "Wait for Episodes II and III to come out, then decide." Which is what I think George had in mind as well.

Above all, keep the quality and the fans will flock. The memories we have of the original 3 films will never be forgotten. It's the product of today that will have to be judged.