Friday, 4 May 2018

May the 4th be with You!

Along time ago, in what feels like another galaxy, young Master Awdry was quietly getting on about his business.  Action Man, a loyal and worthy companion, was deployed on daily missions as diverse as forward observation roles in his scout car or perhaps journeying to the bottom of the ceramic lined bath in Seawolf.  Home was a small town in idyllic Mid Wales, but it might as well have been a million parsecs away from excitement and adventure; all that changed in 1977.  

I have always been a daydreamer, in fact some might say little has changed, but the ability to withdraw quietly into one’s own space and amuse yourself with fictitious imaginings is, I believe, a great gift.  There is no doubt in my mind that the advent of Star Wars brought about a very definite seed change to those thoughts, now whole galaxies were at my disposal, an infinite amount of possibilities to be explored.  Rides around the park became dogfights in space as I desperately tried to shrug off swarms of TIE Fighters, the piece of junk that was my second hand bicycle, lovingly restored by my father, was no longer an embarrassment, sure she didn’t look like much, but she had it where it counts, whilst my Grandmother’s bamboo canes took on magical qualities that caused them to hum and crash during lightsabre battles in the garden. 
Treasures from the loft.
To this new awakening came the introduction of merchandising, something the Awdry household had been blissfully ignorant of up until this point.  Imagine, if you will, a time before the internet, YouTube and the power at your fingertips to dial up all manner of information and images.  The only way to recapture some of the magic that we had seen on screen was to either go and see it again, and many did, or invest in the merchandise.  Favourites included bubble gum cards, stickers, annuals and of course the much loved action figures.  These were, quite simply, a revelation and transformed the Awdry toy box.  During this period Action Man was initially confined to barracks, but ultimately discharged in favour of the new, compact action figure.  Away too went the regiments of Airfix plastic warriors as a different type of Stormtrooper took centre stage.  Model aircraft were cut down from their cat gut restraints as spaceships now soared into the skies over a bed, bedecked in matching Star Wars duvet cover and pillow set.  The march was relentless, brushing aside all resistance.
 I had reached my teenage years when Return of the Jedi, the third instalment, hit our screens.  Even with the inclusion of the somewhat bemusing Ewoks it was clear that change was in the air, both on the silver screen and at home.  Life was becoming more serious, more complicated and a simple pleasure like spending your pocket money on action figures was becoming harder to justify.  Ultimately they were packed away, as if frozen in carbonite, to be released one day… perhaps?  
If the truth be told Star Wars was never totally abandoned, just hearing the opening refrain of the Imperial March would illicit feelings of joy and happiness; the certain promise of excitement and adventure to follow.  As pocket money was replaced by a regular wage, the occasional action figure would be bought and of course there were the prequels to contend with!   So why mention it here?  Last summer, and in a fit of shameful, sheer indulgence, I bought into world of Fantasy Flight’s Imperial Assault.  This had been on my radar for some time, especially having enjoyed the wonderful X-Wing Miniatures game, but the last thing I needed was to buy into another game system with yet more plastic miniatures. 
It was a series of posts made on the thoroughly entertaining 'The Game Cupboard' that caused the already strained resolve to start to crumble; I was weak and most definitely seduced by a stronger force! My initial reluctance to commit had been that this appeared to be a game for two or more players, but Steve guided me, with exceptional kindness, through the possibilities of playing Imperial Assault as a solo venture. Several expansions quickly followed and a wonderful summer holiday was spent battling across the sands of Tatooine or aboard a fearsome Star Destroyer, reunited with the characters from my youth. With the start of the new academic year everything was put away, but the recent release of The Last Jedi on DVD, has seen a further awakening. To that end, I have decided to dedicate the month of May to Star Wars and hope to showcase some bits and pieces that I have finally attacked with the paintbrush. So go strap yourselves in, I'm going to make the jump to light speed!

50 comments:

  1. May the 4TH will be with you always Michael :) great collection & you've just put an idea in my head as I own Imperial Assault but had never thought on playing it (Hans) Solo :0)

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    1. Thank you Frank and definitely worth exploring, even if it is just for sheer self indulgence. Great pun too! :)

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  2. Aaah me, oh my, such wonderful nostalgia. You awaken in me the joys of having lived through the conception.. seen the dream.. and then lived with Star Wars in my life in some shape or another, for the best part of my entire life. I imagine it will continue to do so for the latter half of it as well. The Last Jedi has definitely given me `new hope` that this will indeed be the case.

    I found myself pouring over the photographs of your collection, and going "OOooh I had that one too" and "Ooo I still got that one." and it bought a smile to my lips to hear your talk about YOUR personal nostalgia with this amazing franchise. I think to a big extent, this tale mirrors all our memories of it all, and we all of us steered a similar course. Who doesn`t, even now, find themselves moved by the opening bars of the title music, or feel the hairs stand up on the back of the neck at the Imperial March soundtrack. I still feel the softer, romantic nuance fill my mind when I hear the Han and Leia refrain.

    I get excited every time I head you mention Imperial Assault, and I feel a rush of satisfaction to think that you are still playing with it all, and having such fun exploring all that game has to offer. I would strongly advise you to check out the free Imperial Assault Ap... yes its FREE, and it will allow you to play the campaign game alone (solo) or cooperatively with others, either playing just the base game or adding in the expansions you own, the Ap leaves how you do that up to you. Check out the many videos on You Tube about it, there are tutorials and game play sessions and everything. email me if you like and I`ll send you the links to the best ones to watch.

    Lovely article Michael.

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    1. Thank you Steve for such kind words and your continued support. I really enjoyed sitting down and writing this post, it just grew and grew. Even now I keep rsembereing other snippets of information for example, I had forgotten that the nearest cinema was two town away and that I went with a group pf friends to see Star Wars the first time - imagine that drive home!

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    2. I bet that trip home was like.. wow.

      I remember our trip home was almost stunned silence, with the occasional babble of "oh man, that bit where Luke....." and "I liked the bot where Leia went and.." and then more silence, each of us caught up in our own stupefied silences: the Mother who drove us home must have thought it was so peaceful. The drive was from Norwich to West Runton.

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  3. Cracking post Michael - even though it means re-typing my own bog's draft title and intro for today ;-)
    The early bird gets the worm :-)

    A month dedicated to Star Wars? Yes please!

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    1. Oh I am sorry for that! ;) Right then, best get on with writing these posts having promised them.

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  4. May the Forth be with you too, Michael. Great posting - loads of memories :-)

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  5. It sound's like your youth mirrored mine Michael, all be it in a small village outside Bristol instead of Wales, do you find the Imperial assault expansions addictive, I know I do but try to limit them by only sticking to one planet at the moment.
    Looking forward to seeing what bits have fallen under the light sabre brush (try not making the noises every time you pick up the brush now ! LOL )and May the Fourth be with you

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    1. Thank you Dave and yes, very addictive! In a feat of unknown restraint, I have managed to keep to Tatooine, but who doesn't want a Wampa in their collection? :D

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    2. Indeed Michael, those snowy fields do call to me, but the force is strong in this one, Tatooine I shall remain (for now !)

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  6. This has the potential to be a really interesting month!
    I am looking forward to it.

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    1. Thank you Mike, I hope that I do not let you down.

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  7. Oh joy! this will be a good series of postings as you're magical brush breaths life into old memories!

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. No pressure then! Thank you Roger, looking forward to sharing my efforts.

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  8. An appropriate day on which to post, Michael (although as it's also my eldest son's birthday, I would be crucified if I didn't put that first).

    I'm looking forward to this series of posts immensely, as although a dyed-in-the-wool SW fan, I have remained strong in the face of SW miniature gaming. As I'd be siding with the Imperials - 'cos, you have to admit, their uniforms ARE cooler - the prospect of a fielding an Imperial army is tempting, but currently too rich for my blood. One day, perhaps...

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    1. Ah yes, that eternal battle that every young chap has to wrestle with - Imperials or Rebels? Yes uniforms are cooler, but Rebels have X-Wings! :)

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    2. Oooh!! I wanna be Darth Maul

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  9. Oh yes I forgot about the date. "May the $th also be with you!"

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  10. I used to collect star wars stuff as well until my Dog ate the dolls. The wookie survived though as he found it a Little chewy.

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    1. And once again, I am chuckling away as I write a response to your message, thank you Paul. :)

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  11. A nice idea you had yound Jedi, looking forward to it I am...

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    1. I was going to write that I shall try and do by best, but there is no try! ;)

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  12. Yep star wars played a big part of my youth as well and have remained a life long fan.

    Christopher

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    1. There are quite a few of us out there. ;)

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  13. I can't wait to see what you've painted!

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    1. Right then, best get on with it. :)

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  14. I had the exact same Star Wars and Empire annuals – alas long since lost. Good times indeed. Simpler times as a child. I get to see our boy go through the same thing soon.

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    1. I had forgotten how good the stories were in the annuals, in fact if I am honest, I probably didn't like them at first as they were not the original film. You now have the best excuse to live through it all again!

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  15. Oh, he hit me right in the nostalgia. Great post sir

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    1. Thank you Andy, loved writing this one.

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  16. Wow, that's quite an impressive collection of figures! I seem to remember most in my own collection, though long sent to the church jumble sale of doom.

    I have managed to resist the Star Wars offerings to our hobby. Aside from gifts of the fun X-Wing game and some old 80's West End Games minis (That I really should go paint some day!), Star Wars (Which is quite possibly my fav sci-fi franchise ever - well, the original trilogy, and Rogue One of course) has yet to find a way on to my paint table.

    I think I'll live vicariously through your own endeavours. :)

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    1. Thank you Dai, if I am honest that was only part of the collection, there are a lot more in the loft!

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  17. A blast from the past.. excellent . Look forward to the creations!

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  18. Can't wait to see what you will do with all of these SW toys. :)

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  19. And also with you!

    I think I only had two of the action figures - Chewie and Artoo - when I was a kid. When X-Wing came out, I did buy in (quite heavily as it happens) but stopped after wave 2 or 3 of the releases as I simply wasn't getting games in.

    So far I've resisted the temptations of Imperial Assault and Legion...

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  20. Quite Impressive! Anyway, I have also refrained form getting into Legion and Assault, but do have a sizeable collection of X-wing stuff. What I do have and am still adding to is a nice amount of West End Games SW figures in 25mm they are great little collectibles and I will paint them on and off as fancy takes it. I am quite curious what they will make of the Han Solo adventure May 25th though...

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  21. I think you have succumbed to the Force with your indulgent purchases, but it is understandable considering the circumstances.

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