Parenting Padawans: Sharing My Collection

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

Are you a parent with children who love the galaxy far, far away? Parenting Padawans is an exclusive column that discusses the various questions and factors that come into play when introducing your younglings to Star Wars.

When I was a kid, my bedroom was dominated by Star Wars. Kenner toys on the floor, The Empire Strikes Back sheets on my bed, the storybooks and Marvel comics on my shelf, and the double-vinyl soundtrack on the turntable. I’m sure many of you can say the same thing.

Now that I have Star Wars-obsessed kids of my own, I notice something familiar about their rooms. Hasbro toys on the floor, Star Wars Angry Birds sheets on the boy’s bed, the original one-sheet poster for A New Hope on the girl’s wall, and entire shelves dedicated to Star Wars books and comics.

But mixed in with all of their new stuff is a considerable amount that was once mine and part of my prized collection.

I started seriously collecting Star Wars back in the early ’90s when I was in middle school and the franchise was dormant. The Dark Times. This was before Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire kickstarted interest and rebooted Star Wars merchandise in a huge way. Back then, there were some amazing deals to be found, and it was still possible to pick up a near-mint carded Kenner action figure for the price of a nice dinner.

I started collecting what I loved most from childhood: Kenner toys, Marvel comics, and Topps trading cards. Once I had all of the comics and cards, I branched out. My collection soon outgrew the space available in my bedroom, and my parents gave me free reign of our attic (which was essentially a whole other level of the house). The little Type-A collector that I was soon converted the attic into my personal Star Wars museum.

I shelved books alphabetically, I stacked games and boxes in orderly piles, I hung carded figures in neat rows, and I displayed loose action figures on a custom-built shelf with inset dowel nubs so they could stand upright. (This was the crowning achievement of my stint as a middle school curator.)

After high school, life happened. I went to college, I traveled around the world, I got married, I found a career, I had kids. The collection lived inside cardboard boxes for the better part of two decades. In that time, I occasionally thought about the treasures I had gathered together, but I never really felt compelled to dig into the boxes and set up a new display. Space was at a premium, and — truth be told — I had other priorities.

It wasn’t until my daughter was old enough to tell Star Wars toys from non-Star Wars toys (and prefer the former) that I thought to myself, “You know, I might have a few things somewhere that she’d probably like.” I opened up a few boxes, found my nearly complete collection of Power of the Force figures from the mid-’90s, and gave her a few. The pure joy that greeted me in return meant that all bets were off. Whatever the kids wanted was theirs. (Within reason, of course. I mean, I’m not going to hand over my 12-back mint-condition Stormtrooper.)

A young girl holds action figures of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
At this point, I’ve probably handed over a good 30% of my collection to them. And it feels great. It feels great to see those books get read, to see those toys get played with, to see those coloring books get colored, and to see those notebooks get scribbled in. It felt great to tear open a complete set of The Phantom Menace kids meal toys (which required several weeks — and an alarming number of calories — to assemble back in 1999).

It feels great to see this stuff — which I had such fun collecting — get loved in a way I just can’t give it anymore. For me, the thrill was in the hunt…not the storage fees. And now the thrill is in sharing the joy of Star Wars with my kids.

Watching my kids laugh, have fun, and enjoy this stuff is so much more rewarding than letting it continue to gather dust or selling it online for a few bucks. Their happiness is worth more than that.

Every collector who becomes a parent will eventually face the same dilemma. “Do I let my kids have access to my collection?” For my part, I chose to follow the wisdom of Toy Story: toys are meant to be played with. Life’s too short to keep Yoda behind glass.

What about you? What do you share with your kids? Have you turned over any portion of your collection to them?

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).

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