As one of the original and longest standing Star Wars licensees, Topps trading cards have always been a part of the Star Wars experience. So much so that, even today, it seems strange to me when I see a Star Wars photo and it doesn’t have a distinctive colored border.
By the time I’d discovered these fantastic collectables, they’d done the rounds and were largely absent from candy stores. So the hunt began! Regular visits to jumble sales, school fetes, and the occasional charity shop (remember this was pre-ebay!) occasionally resulted in a solitary warped card or even a selection held together by a rubber band that bent these little artifacts even further. Slowly, I built up a small but cherished image library. I’m still missing card #109 (Ben turns off the Tractor Beam) but I’m still searching…
These days, there’s a slightly better chance of getting a full set of cards as full details are published, complete sets are itemized and, if you really want to complete your set, there’ll be someone out there who’ll happily help you with that signed George Lucas chase card, or that elusive card featuring an actual piece of Oola’s costume (only one produced due to scarcity of fabric).
You can certainly get ahead of the game by grabbing a copy of Star Wars Insider #145 (UK #121) to get one of two sets of exclusive Topps promo cards for the new Star Wars Illustrated set which is based on the eternally wonderful National Public Radio A New Hope Radio Drama.
Fan favorite artists Matt Busch and Randy Martinez have illustrated two of the cards, while the other two feature images from the recording of the legendary show.
Another fond Star Wars memory from my childhood was visiting a friends’ house and seeing a battered copy of Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye on his brother’s bookshelf. At this point there were two Star Wars movies. Han Solo was still in carbonite and firmly in the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, Luke had yet to face Darth Vader again, and the world had yet to experience Salacious Crumb, the Ewoks, and Princess Leia’s gold bikini.
I still vividly recall the questions racing through my six-year-old head as I peered at Ralph McQuarrie’s haunting cover art. What was this? Was there a movie? Is that Luke and Leia facing Vader? Oh! Is she the ‘other’ that was mentioned in Empire? (Okay, I didn’t think that last one.)
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was my favorite Star Wars novel growing up (and still is –, I’m not fully grown yet). From its weird, Star Trek-esque title to the odd tone some might call it a misstep, but I say that’s part of its appeal.
I love the little inconsistencies in the book. Darth Vader wields a blue lightsaber, R2 is referred to as a “detoo” unit. Vader claims that Luke blasted him out of the way during the climax of his trench run, when… well, if you’re here you’ve seen the movie.
It’s from an age when the facts weren’t so easy to check, and while errors like that would be irritating now, back then they had a curious charm.
For such a key text in the history of the saga, there’s not been a great deal written about Splinter, an oversight which we’ve addressed in Star Wars Insider #145.
If you read and enjoyed the fascinating story conference material in J. W. Rinzler’s excellent The Making of Return of the Jedi, then you’ll love Alan Dean Foster and George Lucas’ full and frank discussion on just where to take the first original Star Wars novel at a time when the future of Star Wars wasn’t quite as assured as it is now.