One of the lessons I learned rather late is that “life isn’t fair.” I hadn’t really known that until I was 21 years old and employed at a scientific trade journal. Suddenly I saw how hard work, competency, and smarts didn’t always reap rewards. That was eye opening. Another lesson I picked up at that job was life doesn’t offer do-overs. That is, unless you’re George Lucas.
On Friday, September 16, Lucas—the mighty maven behind the Indiana Jones quartet, “American Graffiti,” and countless technical breakthroughs—is going to release his most famous work, yet again, on DVD and Blu-ray. The newly restored “Star Wars” saga—all six films—is going to be re-released. Or, should that be re-re-released. Or, more accurately, re-re-re-released. Well, you get the point. Mr. Lucas can’t seem to leave a good thing alone.
My friend Cam contacted me the other day and mentioned how he has already pre-ordered the release on Amazon. (I have to laugh at that because Cam pre-orders everything. I swear he already signed up for this release a few months back, so I think he has pre-pre-ordered.) We got to talking about the chance to do things again and again, and Cam remarked, “I think the ‘Star Wars’ doll makers probably wish they had a second crack at those dolls.”
I agreed. Some of the 12-inch versions of Princess Leia, Han, and Luke were really quite unattractive. I’m not saying they were “Star Wars bar” ugly, but they certainly didn’t flatter their celebrity counterparts. (Interestingly, despite some of the less than flattering interpretations, “Star Wars” dolls and toys were nominated this week, September 13, for inclusion into the National Toy Hall of Fame, headquartered at the Strong Museum. It seems that the first half of September is very Lucas-oriented.)
Knowing that Cam has owned and has sold almost every object ever produced on this planet—as well as in distant galaxies far, far away—I queried if he currently had any of these sci-fi characters in his treasure trove.
“I have the Hasbro Armadillo,” he confided. And then paused dramatically. “Um, I mean Amidala. Sorry—these out-of-this-world names get confusing.”
That’s very true: when compared to Padmé Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, and Nautag D’al Gargan II, the name Luke Skywalker sounds downright down-to-earth.
“Do you think one of the reasons why the Hasbro portrait dolls failed was because of the facial paint job?” I wondered aloud. “The costuming was beautiful, and the accessories were really great. I thought they were authentic.”
“Paint job? Is that what Kabuki makeup is called these days?” he snorted. “The queen dolls were way too white-faced and the cheeks were splattered with red paint. It was like Raggedy Ann meets Al Jolson. It was ridiculous to expect little girls to want to play with that! What Jedi mind trick convinced them to make that doll?”
“Cam, you are terrible,” I chastised, but I couldn’t suppress my laughter.
“I’m holding on to my Hasbro Portrait dolls because I know they had to be ahead of their time,” he declared. “It’s funny, it’s like life imitating art, but going beyond. ‘Star Wars’ is set in the future, but these dolls can’t be appreciated in this time and place. Maybe a century from now they’ll be hot sellers.”
“Cam, I think the episodes are set in the past. ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way.’”
“Past? Impossible! It has to be some kind of Einstein version of the past then. Something that is happening in the future and is looped back around into the past. I’ve been alive for a half-century now, and I’ve never seen a Wookie walking into a bar.”
Despite the chance to embarrass the heck out of Cam with that priceless opening for a joke, I held my tongue.
And that’s when Cam shared his greatest pearl of wisdom. “I guess we can’t blame the companies for getting the faces wrong. I mean the Kenner version of Leia looks more like Mary Hart than Carrie Fisher. But then again, Carrie Fisher doesn’t look like Carrie Fisher anymore. Maybe that’s the secret. Make a doll that captures the spirit of the character, not the actress who plays the part. This way, you don’t have to worry if a different actor steps in and plays the role. Think about how confusing it would be if you had a ‘Darren’ doll from ‘Bewitched.’ Her husband changed right in the middle of an episode, for Pete’s sake!”
In Cam’s world, almost everything leads back to Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery—the two most beautiful actresses to ever flit across the TV, in his estimation.
“I think the Mattel versions of ‘Samantha Stephens’ are to die for. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the portrait one of gorgeous Liz, or Barbie as ‘Bewitched.’ Both types of that doll are perfect!”
I humor Cam, but he’s once again on a Montgomery Mission. He’s vocally enamored with his favorite celebrity.
“Hands down, if Jabba the Hutt had a choice between Leia and Samantha, I know who he’d choose to put into that metal bikini,” he theorizes.
And I happily listened while the “Bewitched” theme song was hummed loudly in my ear.
Oh, Cam, may the doll collecting force be with you!