— A Guest Post by PK Sullivan
When Lucasfilm and Disney announced that there would be a global unboxing event leading up to Force Friday, I knew I’d be glued to the computer watching the stream. By sheer force of will, Disney has created a second Christmas for Star Wars fans. I noticed on the full schedule that one of the unboxing events would be here in Chicago and immediately started planning on how to attend. My work schedule coincided perfectly with the Chicago unboxing at the Disney Store — the unboxing was at 8:30 a.m. and I don’t punch in until 10:00 a.m. It gave me plenty of time to take the train from the Magnificent Mile down to the Loop.
The global unboxing has been incredibly exciting and joyful for me. Last night I watched as products were revealed in Australia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Each new toy filled me with a childlike glee. How cool are those lightsaber kits? Kids are going to go nuts over those. And the black X-wing? It looks so good. I honestly have no idea how the 31″ Kylo Ren and First Order Stormtrooper figures are only $35. Mind blowing. My favorite unboxing last night was, hands down, the Lego X-wing with Poe Dameron and BB-8. It’s going on my wish list with the Lego Ghost from Star Wars Rebels. Seeing Dante Bosco (who played Rufio in Hook and Prince Zuko in The Last Airbender) acting like a kid on Christmas as he unboxed a Hot Wheels play set was a treat. Once a Lost Boy, always a Lost Boy.
The funny thing is that I’m not even a big toy collector. I struggle to recall if I had any Star Wars toys as a kid — none come immediately to mind, except a Count Dooku lightsaber I bought myself as a high school graduation gift. (Recently rediscovered in my sister’s storage unit this summer. Score!) My fandom has always been centered on the stories – novels, comics, films, etc. — and the games, generally of the tabletop variety. All of these new products get me excited and I’m not even going to buy them (Lego X-wing possibly aside). It’s cool enough for me that they just exist.
This morning I got up early and headed to the Magnificent Mile Disney Store for the unboxing. I arrived about half an hour early and was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to go in — what was not made clear in the announcement is that only press were allowed in for the unboxing. Bonnie, one of the Disney employees, invited me to stay and watch through the front window with other fans. She hinted that there would be something special for the fans. As the appointed time drew near, a host of Disney employees armed with Kylo Ren lightsabers took to the sidewalk in front of the Disney Store to peer in through the picture window. Bonnie handed me my own lightsaber and said, “Come on! Join us! Get in the spirit.” Never one to turn down a lightsaber, I took it and moved up to the far edge of the picture window.
The stage was set up with Star Wars banners on either end and a podium in the center with three document boxes perched atop it. The stage was lit much like a TV set, bright enough that seeing the crowd of journalists inside was a challenge. The Disney Store employees were abuzz with speculation about what the product would be. Even they were kept in the dark until the grand reveal. One told me she was just excited to have a lightsaber and she’d be taking it to all the hockey games she goes to this season. Being from Minnesota she’s a Wild fan. I’m also a Wild fan so we had a little bonding moment and clashed our sabers together in celebration.
Finally, the show began inside. A middle-aged man and two boys, perhaps eight and five years old, took the stage. The older boy popped open his box first to reveal a Kylo Ren costume, complete with mask, hood, and a belt. He stepped off to the side of the stage to put it on over his clothes with the assistance of a crew member carefully positioned behind one of the large banners. Meanwhile, the younger boy opened his box to find a First Order Stormtrooper costume. The man helped him put it on and it was a ton of fun to see that there were multiple pauldrons for the costume so kids can play different ranks. By this time Kylo Ren was fully costumed and rejoined the stage. The third box was opened to reveal boots and goggles for a Rey costume. A girl, who I think was about 10 years old, came on stage wearing the rest of the Rey costume. Unlike the boys’ outfits, this was not sized to fit over clothes. She donned the goggles and the slip-on boots and posed with the boys. I couldn’t see clearly but this was when they set up a mannequin in the Captain Phasma costume. With that, the live stream came to an end.
I stuck around for a moment or two after the video stopped and caught my favorite part of the whole thing: Rey posing as if she were using Force push while the photographer snapped stills of the kids in costume. That was awesome. It reminded me that Star Wars fandom is an incredible thing. It’s truly multi-generational and has captured the imaginations of children for nearly forty years. Kids today are playing the same way that I played twenty years ago and the way young kids played nearly twenty years before that. The ranks of young Jedi have never been stronger.
With the live stream done, I took my lightsaber and ventured to the office. One of my coworkers has two young children, a 6-year-old boy and a girl who turns four tomorrow on Force Friday. So after getting a few photos with my Kylo Ren lightsaber, I bequeathed it to them. I’m sure it will see much more play at their house than in mine and I can’t wait to see photos of them with it.
While the unboxing was an incredible event — both on the computer and in person — my personal Force Friday journey isn’t over yet. Tonight I return to the Disney Store for the midnight opening in the hopes of being one of the first 1,000 shoppers to get the D23 Drew Struzan poster. My wife, who is incredible and supportive of my Star Wars addiction, is going to our local Target to get me the new X-wing Miniatures core set that features all-new ships: a Resistance X-wing and First Order TIE fighters.
May the Force be with you all!
You can contact PK via Twitter @pk_sullivan.Powered by Sidelines