Emotional Action Figures

When I joined the Official Star Wars Fan Club, I took an oath to the Rebel Alliance. Somewhere in that oath I agreed to write about the movies whenever the opportunity presented itself. This week provided that opportunity. Well it wasn’t really the week but IBD reader and fellow Rebel Howard Aprill. That’s right, we are rebels.

The following correspondence is from Howard.

Hi Shea,

I recently visited the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, WI. They had an exhibit featuring some of America’s favorite toys from the 1940’s through present day. It was awesome! Lots of toys that took me back including Shrinky Dinks, Slinkies, Rubik’s Cubes, and more. What caught my eye first however was the Star Wars material It very much took me back long,long time ago to a galaxy (childhood) far away. I have to admit that my wife Paula was very indulgent of me lingering at the Star Wars case for far longer than most.

I’m sure the curator who assembled the exhibit was probably a museum studies major and not an interpreter. Furthermore, it was not a fancy exhibit as it was mostly objects with little text. However, I have to admit that it really connected to me on an emotional level. It was a very basic exhibit with few “bells and whistles”. They took “objects” (ie Star Wars action figures) and allowed me to forge the intellectual (or in this case and emotional) connection. It was awesome and it worked. Sometimes you can just let the resource or object speak for itself.

I have taken the liberty of including a few photos that I hope you will appreciate.



P.S. I love sweater vests, bald is beautiful, Thursday is the best day of the week, cereal should be a food group, red heads make me uncomfortable, and he National League should be abolished.

Okay so the post script wasn’t exactly what Howard had to say but I do want to clarify two things before I continue. Like me, Howard is married. It is possible to speak Jabbanese and find true love. Secondly, the greatest toy besides action figures (not dolls) are Shrinky Dinks.

I could end this post here because Howard made some excellent points. Now even though he alluded to the display being more of a museum presentation of artifacts and less of an interpretive exhibit, at times letting visitors draw their own conclusions can be just as valuable as drawing it for them. Also you can’t beat showing the thing itself. No matter what you do, people want to see original objects and the thing itself. When you are making your plans and your programs, don’t forget their wants and needs.

Seeing Howard’s pictures brought a flood of memories coming back to me. The picture above (that he titled Jabba et al, which happens to be the greatest name of a photo in digital imagery history, for the record et al in this picture is Salacious Crumb) immediately reminded me of a friend’s Jabba Palace Play-set that was painstakingly set-up as a shrine to reenact the scene from Return of the Jedi. Okay, that seems a little creepy now, considering we were in high school and the play-set stayed in tact well into college. Anyway, it was a good memory that could have been easily replaced with something like prom. At this point, as if I had a choice, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thanks for reading and sharing Howard.