yellow = Janice white = Mike
"Noooooo-ooooo!!!" I'm pleading. "I'm tired!"
We just got back from Chris & Arianne's, and I made the grave mistake of laying down. When will I ever learn? As long as I stay standing/sitting up, I can usually stay awake long into the night. But as soon as I go horizontal... Sheesh.
But it's an hour away 'til Wednesday, April 24, 2002, or as all you geeks know it: the day the Episode II toys go on sale. I trudge downstairs, and we head out to the Northgate Toys R Us. I'm cranky.
Poor Janice--I try to tell her it's OK if she just wants to go to bed, but she's such a trooper. I'm tired too, but also a little giddy with anticipation. Excitement has been building for a few weeks on collectors' sites like Rebelscum and Yakface.com (let it never be said that Star Wars geeks don't have senses of humor). Earlier in the day I was checking out Rebelscum's checklist of what was going to be available, trying to plan what to get on my meager budget--my plan is to limit myself to 5 of the 27 action figures which are being released, depending on what they have there.
We get to the Toys R Us, and I'm just amazed at how many people are already in line! I don't know why, but I underestimated the geek population of Seattle. There's a mixed-bag of people: high-school students out past curfew, lotsa hipster guys, some parental-looking units, and (thank god) quite a few girls, too. And, yes, there were people there in costume. I think most of them were actually Toys R Us employees though. Dang, it sure is cold outside.
There must have been 75-100 people ahead of us when we arrived. Why is it that the vast majority of Star Wars costumers dress up like the bad-guy Imperials? Is it some subconscious craving for totalitarian order in their lives? Or are the outfits just cooler?
The front doors open and the line starts to move. People start to cheer. The walk into the store is completely calm and orderly. People dressed as Imperial Guards stand right outside the front doors. (Nice touch!) But then, we get past the doors...
click each picture to see it full-size
(GULP!) It's a madhouse: the action figures are thrown into plastic kiddie pools, and people are on their hands-and-knees, clamoring to get one of each. Couples are tag-teaming, with one person watching the shopping cart and the other working the floor. People are walking around with lists in their hand of all the new merchandise. Hysterically enough, I'm not the only one toting a camera.
In fact, I spy one guy with what looks like a high-quality video camera. At this point, though, I'm focused on getting to the toys. The main focus of activity is the kiddie pools of action figures on the floor; the area around the corner, where the Legos, vehicles, and games are, is getting much less attention. I dive in to the action-figure area.
Mike and I have been to enough bi-mon-sci-fi-cons to have seen the footage of
the first night of the Phantom Menace toys. It was ruthless: people were getting physical by pushing and shoving, people were stealing things left and right from others' carts. Utterly ruthless. Tonight, things are much more sedate than that. The only brutality occurs when a guy runs his shopping cart over my foot. Okay, so it didn't really hurt that much. But I'm in a bratty mood, remember? ; ) Loudly, I scream out, "OWWWWW!!!" and look at the guy with as much pain as I can possibly muster. The guy barely blinks at me, and I notice that no one around really looks up either. I'm exasperated. C'mon guys, here's your chance to let your Jedi spirit shine! You know, "Help me, Obi Wan?!!" Oh, for chrissakes, forget it...
At this point I'm so immersed that I lose track of Janice; after a few minutes of digging through the pools I stand up to find her and to survey what else is going on. I have 5 or so figures, but they're mostly of main characters, and my strategy is to go for the more obscure and interesting-looking characters, since I figure that the main characters will still be plentiful in the weeks to come. I learned my lesson after the glut of initial Episode 1 figures all ended up on clearance. I notice that an employee is opening up fresh cases of the obscure figures over on a table adjacent to the kiddie pools, so I squeeze my way over and manage to get the ones that catch my eye. I briefly dip back into the pools and try to help a guy find an Obi-Wan, but someone else beats me to it. Janice & I also take a few minutes to check out the other, less-popular merchandise. Disappointingly, the Star Wars-ified Game of Life and Stratego sets look pretty lame, and I can't get the Reek creature to roar properly.
Mike is having a hard-time paring down which action figures to get. Unlike the others, he only has an armful of toys. (Most have carts.) The electric R2 is a must, in my opinion. The stupid girl figure should be thrown back in the kiddie pool. ("But she has a cool cape," Mike whines.) We throw a few back in the pool, and a Jedi knight checks out our purchases. Reluctantly, I have to admit I was glad I went. You just don't experience frenzied shopping like that everyday, and it was pretty wonderous! But, I'm so thankful to get back to that lying down thing...
That "stupid girl figure" is of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, and she's in a dramatic action pose with her robes swirling around her. It's not like she's in a skintight, revealing costume, like the horrible new "Amidala Croft" figure (as someone on the Rebelscum forums called it). It does seem unfair that half of the text on the back of the card talks about Luminara's "striking" appearance, though...how come Obi-Wan's description doesn't mention how handsome he is? And I pass on R2, since I already have several versions of him and this one isn't much different. I manage to weed 12 figures down to my self-imposed limit of 5 (Luminara, alien diner owner Dexter Jettster, alien cloner Taun We, a Super Battle Droid, and a buglike Geonosian Warrior). It's tough--I have a feeling I might not see some of them again for a while, if ever. But as we drive home, I feel satisfied with my night's takings and glad I experienced the "madness", and my thoughts turn to getting Janice off of that injured knee of hers and safely off to sleep.