Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Mike: May 3, 1999 was one of the most fun nerdy days I have ever spent. That was the day of the Star Wars Episode I Toys ‘R’ Us midnight toy launch. This was when the toy line for the first new Star Wars film in 16 years was released, thus igniting nerdgasms all over the world.
At the time, Adam and I spent most of our time in Dreamland Comics in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. It was at Dreamland that Adam and I made friendships that last even today. Dreamland was run by our good friend Charlie. Then there’s our crazy buddy Matt. Words can’t describe Matt – he must be experienced. The four of us, with a few other like-minded geeks, camped out at our local Toys ‘R’ Us to get a glimpse of the first wave of Phantom Menace toys to hit shelves.
Being mere weeks away from the premiere of Episode I, we were ravenous for anything that might give us a glimpse into the prequels. At this point in time, we were stuck between not wanting to know any spoilers and WANTING TO KNOW EVERYTHING. The toys were a good way to quench our thirst without giving away too much.
Dreamland Comics closed at 5:00 pm that day. Charlie and I packed up our cars with lawn chairs and food and headed over to Toys ‘R’ Us to start waiting in line, to be joined by our friends soon after. We showed up to discover no one else was dumb enough to start lining up seven hours ahead of time. Suckers!
Charlie, Matt, Adam, myself and a few other friends were the first to line up and the only ones to line up for what felt like quite a while. We could care less. Being in that line, eating junk food and reading video game magazines was half the fun that night. Eventually the line to get in for the midnight release was wrapped around the store, so while we didn’t have to get there as early as we did, we were glad we had a leg up on people.
Once we were let in at midnight, it was mayhem. Luckily, we were smart enough to develop a system beforehand. Charlie was anchored in one of the aisles with a list of figures that we all wanted for our personal collections, as well as for the comic book store. Adam and I were the runners. Toys were on display throughout the store, so there were bodies everywhere. Charlie would bark to Adam and me which figures he needed and we would run off in search. We’d return with some and he’d have more instructions. “I need two Darth Mauls, two Jar-Jars, five Qui-Gon Jinns and three CommTech readers!” And off we went.
While this fits into a laundry list of stories Adam and I tell about us having to wait in long lines only to fight with other sweaty nerds over pieces of plastic, I promise it was worth it. We got out of there around 2:00 am and found a 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts where we could sit and decompress. We brought in some of our new shiny toys and studied them like we did when we were 8 years old on Christmas morning.
On May 19, 1999, Star Wars Episode I opened. We were there at midnight. While it’s a flawed fucking movie to say the least, we had so much fun that night as well as the weeks and months leading up to it. It was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had.
Adam: See for yourselves!