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Star Wars: Thanks for the memories

As The Force Awakens arrives, we ask some licensees for their favourite memories of the sci-fi epic.

Do you remember where you were on December 27th, 1977? If you’re a certain age, chances are you were in a cinema queue to see the first movie in what would become one of the most successful franchises of all time. With the release of The Force Awakens upon us, The Source asked some of its licensees (and Star Wars fans) for their favourite memories of the sci-fi epic – from attending premieres to Secret Cinema and, erm, men dressing up as Princess Leia.

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Mordy Benaiah, licensing director, Pyramid International
“I was 11 in 1977 when I went with my big sister to what was then the Dominion cinema in Tottenham Court Road to see the first Star Wars film. I remember it vividly; it was a hot summer’s day and we stood in a long queue for tickets.
I left the cinema with a big grin on my face. What I had seen was amazing and all I could do in the following days was to search hard for any toys I could spend my pocket money on. I ended up seeing the film three times in the cinema, craving more and praying that they would create a sequel. Now in 2015, at the age of 49, I cannot wait to see the new Star Wars movie. It has brought back all of those great feelings and the excitement is off the scale.”
David Wootliff, UK commercial director, Rubie’s Masquerade
“Who didn’t believe in the Force in 1977? I loved the story, the action, the impressive power of the magical force and the epic adventure of good versus evil.
I was lucky enough to be a Storm Trooper in a Hasbro/Milton Bradley VHS video game back in the day. We had original crew from the films working on the set and Dave Prowse re-enacted his Darth Vader role (now an inch and a half shorter due to a hip operation but still an incredible feat).
The Star Wars universe has huge appeal and I’m very proud to say my son, Jack, is a fan – no way as much as me, but we watch one of the movies together every now and then, and talk about all the characters. I took him to a special Episode One screening in Leicester Square and he was so excited. It really helped to engage him in the franchise.”
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Sarah-Jane Porter, head of licensing, Photobox Group
“The warm nostalgia of the iconic John Williams score sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it and evokes memories of watching the first trilogy with my family and friends as a child over and over again.
My second memory is a story of a good friend of mine who, as a child, made dolly pegs of all the characters and took them into school on games day. But no one wanted to play with them as they had the real deal.
Lastly, I love the Star Wars dance offs from the Hyperspace Hoopla Star Wars weekender – Darth Vader and Storm Troopers Thriller 2008 is hilarious.”
Robyn Cowling, licensing director, Underground Toys
“At the beginning of this year I did a few trips to LucasFilm in San Francisco (not the ranch, unfortunately) to discuss assets and product development which I found genuinely great fun and pretty exciting. I obviously had to play it cool because I was there in a work capacity, but I absolutely loved it.
“It’s a buzz to know that our products will form a part of the brand and landscape for the Star Wars re-launch and new movie. I can’t wait for The Force Awakens (and subsequent films). The way in which LucasFilm has managed the assets with licensees means that, although I’m in the circle of trust and have visibility of characters which aren’t in the public domain, the movie plot is still going to be a total surprise when I go to see it in the cinema.”
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Tim Kilby, brand director, Character World
“The Star Wars Episode 1 movie licence launched Character World back in 1998 to huge success, paving the way to where we are today. We have been working on the brand for almost 20 years and in that time the popularity has never dwindled.
Personally, I have been a huge fan of Star Wars since I was young. I remember watching the first movie and thinking the special effects were just fantastic. I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Dan Grant, senior licensing manager, Hallmark
“Having grown up during the release of the original Star Wars trilogy, I have always been interested and excited by this amazing film series. Added to this I now find myself surrounded by Star Wars toys and DVDs at home as my seven year old stepson has become hooked by the movies and TV animation.
So when I heard we had tickets to attend the Secret Cinema event in July a huge wave of excitement and hysteria ran through our home. You get taken on a journey that makes you feel like you are in the actual Star Wars movies. Seeing Chewbacca and Han Solo being chased by Storm Troopers as we stood taking everything in made me feel like a kid again. The event was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who is a Star Wars fan.”
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Paul Coleman, design manager licensed product, Poetic Gem
“When I was six I made my mum drive me to every single newsagent in Hertfordshire to find a Return of the Jedi sticker album, as they’d sold out everywhere. I finally got one and spent the next two years spending all my pocket money trying to complete it. I’m still searching for the final few.
Oh and I won a fancy dress competition at university, dressed as Princess Leia in the Return of the Jedi gold bikini. All photos have been destroyed so don’t even ask.”
Phil Ratcliffe, sales and marketing director, MV Sports
“My best and most enduring memory has to be attending the world premiere of Phantom Menace. It was by far the best premiere I have ever been to. The after show party was truly star studded with guests bussed out to a secret location. Attendees were all given a punched metal Darth Maul dog tag which I still have at home.”
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Dan Wilkins, NJ Screenprints
“London, Leicester Square, 1977, this was my first cinematic experience. Darth Vader’s battleship cruising over the screen with all the laser blasts and explosions was an awe-inspiring scene to begin the movie with and inspired my dad and I to collect the toys together. I was such a big fan, I took the extra effort collecting tokens from cereal packets for a free Nien Nunb figure from Return of the Jedi. That was the longest parcel I have ever waited for!”
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