In 1983 Return of the Jedi was released in cinemas and the eleven-year-old in me was hyped up beyond belief for the third Star Wars movie to grace our local big screen. A new installment in the universe created by George Lucas. It didn’t disappoint and leaving the cinema I seemed to be more hyped after watching a Star Wars movie than the previous two. I wanted everything to do with the movie and any way possible to recreate the action packed scenes at home. I still collected the Kenner figures and the Topps trading cards from the previous movies along with The Empire Strikes Back sticker album. And it was the sticker album that I was really excited about for Return of the Jedi.
Back in 1983 there was no Internet, no on-demand TV and cinema releases seemed to take an age to hit VHS. So my best source of reliving Star Wars was either playing with my figures, recreating scenes from the movies, laying all my Topps trading cards out all over the floor in order of the movie or flicking through The Empire Strikes Back sticker album and reading the descriptions on each page. It was inevitable that I was going to rush to my nearest newsagents and purchase the Return of the Jedi sticker album, this time by Panini in Europe (Topps in the US.)
My parents didn’t have a huge amount of money so my pocket money was 50p a week. But for this I could get the new sticker album which cost 20p and a few packs of stickers to get me started. Every week I would purchase a couple more packs and add them to my album. To get the complete set I needed to get 180 stickers and some of the scenes in the album were made up of four stickers so getting the first part of the scene may be Han’s leg hanging upside down from the Sail Barge but you knew what it was going to be.
The school playground was the place to be for “swapsies.” My school chums would also be collecting the stickers and there was always someone that had a huge pile of doubles. Unfortunately due to my limited funds, it was likely that my friends would have the ones I had so it was a rare occasion when I managed to get my hands on those valuable “need” stickers. I remember the routine. Shuffling through the stickers the words “got, got, got, need, got, got, need” would be quoted as we all looked through the pile of doubles.
I will confess now that I never finished a sticker album as a kid. I never even got close to being able to take advantage of the offer at the back of the album. Inside the back page, Panini/Topps offered you the chance to send away for those illusive few stickers. A maximum of twenty cards could be ordered by post. Each sticker cost 3p and you had to send a cheque, postal order or stamps. Once I started to get more doubles than new stickers I bought less and less packs of stickers and eventually the sticker album would be confined to the drawer alongside my Empire Strikes Back incomplete sticker album.
Never the less I still look back fondly at collecting the stickers and thirty two years later I decided I would do it again for the nostalgic feeling of being an eleven-year-old once more. Last year, Topps brought out a sticker album called Star Wars: The Force Awakens Sticker Collection. For £4.99 you get the sticker album and five packs of stickers to get you started. Of course, now working for a living I have a lot more disposable income and the sticker packs only costing 50p I was able to purchase a lot more each week. What’s more my geek friends were also collecting so I would be able to recreate the “swapsies” routine once more.
It was fantastic. I genuinely had a smile on my face the first time I opened up the stickers and started to place them in the album. Even my wife helped and loved the idea of getting a full album. Topps were clever with this series. The album was released a good few weeks before Star Wars: The Force Awakens so to avoid any spoilers they split their stickers into part one and part two. Part one were scenes mainly in the trailers or publicity shots that were already on the Internet. Part two of the stickers were to be released in February, two months after the movie. Part two had more scenes from the movie including scenes with Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. I was buying ten packs at a time and it wasn’t long before I was finding I was getting mainly doubles. I even went to different shops in case the batch they had would have less doubles. I’m not sure if this strategy worked but I did seem to get different stickers than my friends. When I met up with my friends at Comic Cons or a Saturday night, we swapped our stickers.
This time I was able to take advantage of the offer of sending away for those missing stickers and it is so easy. No cheques or postal orders needed. A few clicks on their website to choose your numbers and a Paypal payment and a week later I had the missing stickers in the post. For the first time ever I completed a sticker album. It felt good. Not only that, I took advantage of another offer from Topps. Send ten empty sticker packs (five from part one and five from part two) and you will get a poster with twelve exclusive stickers to add to the poster. It felt great to get the complete set and I can tell you now that I will do it again. Roll on Rogue One and Episode VIII stickers. Oh…I’ve also collected the trading cards and just finished the set, again for the first time ever.
I have the sticker, trading card bug once more and even collect the cards on the Topps Star Wars Card Trader App. I have over 10,000 cards on the app and make sure I collect my free points every day. By the way, if you want to add me for “swapsies” I’m THEBEARDEDTRIO on the app.
Thirty-three years later things in life may be a lot different but some things stay the same. Thank you Topps for making me feel like a kid again.
Rob Wainfur is the founder of The Bearded Trio. A website dedicated to bringing the latest news on George Lucas, John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.
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