As a geek, I’m always engaging in conversations about my favorite this and that. It’s fun to think about, and it’s a great way to connect with people. This week, our League assignment throws us into the Wayback Machine to talk about a kid favorite. Honestly, when I was a kid, whatever was most interesting to me at the time was my favorite, but I do have one particular thing in mind.
When I was a kid, my favorite Star Wars figure was Endor Leia.
I was born in 1978, so I didn’t see the first Star Wars film in the theatre. I may have seen Empire Strikes Back in the theatre, but I would have been too small to remember even if I did. I do remember watching both on laserdisc (the video store we frequented had a perpetual special on laserdisc rentals where you rented the player and got two or three free rentals–that’s how I saw Wrath of Khan as well). Return of the Jedi was the first Star Wars film I vividly remember seeing in the theatre, and I fell hard. Say what you will about the Ewoks, but I was the right age for them. And Leia had already joined Wonder Woman as one of the women I’d most like to be when I grow up (She-Ra rounded out the holy trinity).
I have a much more robust Star Wars figure collection in childhood part two than I did in my first. Back then, I pretty much just wanted Princess Leia. I had a Hoth Leia, and she was cool. But when I saw Endor Leia (or Poncho Leia, as I called her then) on the card at the store, I had to have her. She had it all: a cool helmet, blaster, belt, and a cloth poncho.
I was a nervous kid, especially when making the transition from home to school. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, so I didn’t go to preschool. When I started kindergarten, with my birthday being in September, I was younger than most of the kids. To help me with my anxiety, my mom suggested I put a small toy in my pocket. That way, when I got nervous, I could stick my hand in my pocket and feel it. It worked surprisingly well, and to this day I still carry something small with me pretty much everywhere. (Now, it’s more for photo ops than anxiety. I will say it still gives me comfort to have something to fidget with.) So when I got Leia, she went with me everywhere, because she was the perfect size to carry around with me. I usually kept her blaster in my toy box, and sometimes I’d leave her helmet.
Sadly, though, it was my desire to take her on adventures with me that led to her demise.
In the summer, carrying toys in my pockets was more about adventure than it was anxiety. I’d head outside to my swingset and pretend I was flying in a spaceship or in Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. One fateful day, I was hanging upside down on my trapeze, and I guess Leia fell out of my pocket. I headed inside for lunch, not knowing my tiny plastic friend wasn’t with me. Marooned on the grass planet of my backyard, I don’t know how long she was there before my dad ran over her with the lawnmower. He came in with a few pieces of her poncho, and I knew what had happened. I was devastated, but it taught me to always secure my pockets, or at least empty them before hanging upside down. (It’s also a lot of why even now I obsessively check my pockets when I’m carrying something in them.)
I don’t remember why, but I didn’t get another Endor Leia. Either my parents wanted to teach me a lesson about responsibility, or I moved on to something else. I remember feeling guilty about it. I tried playing with Hoth Leia, but she just didn’t have the pizzazz the other one had. Endor Leia was always in the back of my mind as the missing piece of my childhood.
When my husband and I started dating, he took me to a vintage toy shop his friend ran, and after the second or third trip, I finally asked if he had an Endor Leia. Sure enough, he did, and she wasn’t that expensive. (I guess not everyone lost theirs in tragic lawnmower accidents.) Brad bought her for me, and a wave of nostalgia rushed over me. It’s cheesy to say, but it’s like she’d come home, even though I know she wasn’t the same one I had. Today, Endor Leia (along with her other versions) has a prominent place on my “girly” shelf above my desk, along with Golden Girl, Princess of Power, Wonder Woman, C.U.T.I.E., Zarana, and my Jem and Astronaut Barbie from my childhood.
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