It’s time for our first venture into “The Rise of Skywalker” countdown. See below for my first “Star Wars” memory and my thoughts on common Star Wars tech, such as the droid and the lightsaber. And be sure to leave a comment below on your thoughts on the same topics. And without further ado:
1. First Star Wars Memory
My parents met in Fresno, CA, just a few hours away from where George Lucas was filming the mysterious “Blue Harvest” in the Redwood National Forest. My mom had waited in line for 6 hours in Manhattan in 1977 to see the first Star Wars. When I was born in the early 80s, Star Wars mania was still very much in full swing, hot on the heels of the gargantuan success of The Empire Strikes Back and the brand new Return of the Jedi poised to dominate the world wide box office. My sister and I had been Ewoks for Halloween. Early photos show me (and Sean, for that matter) sporting the swept Luke Skywalker hairstyle. Just like most of the kids my age, I never stood a chance. I am a Star Wars fan through and through and have been since the very beginning.
As far back as I can remember, I would collect my Kenner Star Wars action figure collection on the floor in front of the television. Too young to read, I knew which three VHS tapes were Star Wars and would simply put one on at random. My first clear memory of Star Wars was watching Han Solo blasting stormtroopers on Endor and realizing that he bore a crazy resemblance to another of my childhood heroes; Indiana Jones. Too young to comprehend the concept of actors playing roles for my entertainment, I thought that Captain Solo and Dr. Jones were real people and that their very real battles and adventures were on the screen somehow for my enjoyment. I concluded that they must be the same guy. I remember confronting my dad with my theory and how he tried to preserve the innocence and wonderment of a little boy, assuring him that Solo and Jones were indeed different people.
Decades later, I am fully aware that Star Wars is a work of fiction and can fully appreciate the films. However, although my adult mind is fully aware of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec, and Billy Dee, their characters somehow maintain the endearing quality of existing separately as very much real, living people.
So what is your first Star Wars memory?
2. R-Unit or BB-Unit
When visiting Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, there is plenty to see and do, but among the list of experiences that you should not miss is a visit to the Droid Depot. There, for a nominal fee, you may construct your own custom astromech droid. There is a large variety of colors and models to choose from, but before you can assemble your new friend, fit it with a personality chip, or even name it, you have a choice to make; will your droid be an R-Unit or a BB-Unit? For me the choice was more difficult than I thought it would be.
After considering the factors, I have to go with an R-Unit. One thing that I noted right away is variety. There are 9 different R-Unit models, while we have only seen 3 different kinds of BB models so far in this newest trilogy. R-Units serve as mechanics, navigators, programmers, and co-pilots. To be fair, so do BB-Units. On The Mandalorian and the Rise of the Resistance attraction, we have seen them pilot speeders. R-Units come equipped with defensive measures, including a taser, but in some cases they can be modified to be fitted with weaponry like Dr. Aphra’s BT-1. Admittedly, R-Units are bigger, bulkier, and can sometimes be unwieldy. BB-Units are smaller and have increased mobility and speed, which is a definite plus. BUT we have seen R-Units equipped with booster jets, granting them the ability to fly. It tseems like BB-8 has lots of cool functions, but almost everything he does, R2 does with flair. And Then there is Chopper. I am not sure what to make of him and I’m not even sure that he is an R-Unit. He’s like the Danny DeVito of droids…
These droids have been in service from before the Clone Wars and are still currently in use. Consider R2. This plucky little droid has been around since before the Clone Wars as a mechanic aboard the Royal Naboo starship. Since that time, R2 served with Anakin and Obi-Wan through the Clone Wars, served Captain Antilles and Leia Organa aboard the Tantive IV, delivered Leia’s message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, served throughout the Galactic Civil War, and he is still around. R2 has established himself as not just another droid, but a legends and hero. These tried and true droids have been showing that they can go the distance for a very long time. I think that may be why I like them so much. We have had much longer to get used to them.
Oh, in case anyone was wondering, he ended up being a R6 unit that I named Red…. And he makes R2 look like a punk…
3. Favorite Lightsaber
The lightsaber. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
Since 1977, lightsabers have captured our imaginations as the ultimate hand-to-hand weapon. Each lightsaber was unique, having been built by the wielder. The basic design is usually the same, but over the years we have seen some interesting variations; Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber, Count Dooku’s curved hilt, the circular rotating hilt of the Inquisitors, and Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber, to name a few. What is up with the Dark Side having all the funky lightsabers, anyway? But what the Jedi lack in unorthodox hilt styles, they make up for in variety of color. If you are a Sith, you haven’t got a lot of options in the color department, but we have seen the good guys wielding blue, green, yellow, purple, orange, and white.
For a long time, I thought that my favorite lightsaber was the one Obi-Wan Kenobi carried through the Clone Wars. It was the lightsaber that battled and defeated General Grievous, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Maul, and Ponda Baba’s arm. It was also the lightsaber he used for his final duel with Vader. And I am not the only one that liked it. You will notice that when Luke built his own lightsaber, it looked very similar to that of his original mentor.
But then I had a transformative experience. My change of heart took place in a junk shop; Savi’s junk shop located at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. It was there that with the help of The Gatherers, I was guided by the Force…. And $200… to construct my own lightsaber. Each lightsaber reflects the builder. Obi-Wan’s lightsaber is great, but at the end of the day, it’s HIS lightsaber. But my lightsaber is… well… MINE. Others might admire his lightsaber, but it MEANS something to him. It is a part of him. After building my lightsaber (wood from the Brylark tree, Bantha leather strap on the grip, metal bearing ancient runes, and a blue blade) I realized that no lightsaber could compare to the one that I built myself. Yes, I know that it’s just a theme park money grab. I said the same thing. So did every other person who moments later walked out mesmerized by their new lightsaber. I highly recommend it.
Also, Master Kenobi, some of the coolest Jedi carry both a lightsaber AND a blaster…. And just how did you kill Grievous again?.…