While the documentary Plastic Galaxy may appeal to a very small audience, it is fairly easy to get pulled into the tractor beam of tales spun by its subjects.
by Rob Rector
I was almost creeped out by Plastic Galaxy, and not because of the original Star Wars toy designers had devised an “R2Ds Choo-Choo” that placed our lovable little droid in a head-to-butt configuration, like Human Centipede with circuitry. No, what rattled me more was that throughout Galaxy, I felt as though there had been a camera filming my childhood without my knowledge, spying on my every move as I flew through the Star Wars universe, fueled by my imagination and a slew of toys released from a miniscule toy company called Kenner.
While the documentary Plastic Galaxy may appeal to a very small audience, it is fairly easy to get pulled into the tractor beam of tales spun by its subjects, ranging from overly obsessive collectors to those who were actually responsible for crafting and sculpting those figures and vehicles that allowed children like myself to let the Star Wars adventures live on long past the when the on-screen credits roll.
For that segment of society, Plastic Galaxy will be an immediate time warp back to those days, pointing out the numerous tauntauns and tie fighters that populated our playrooms or were the Rosetta Stones of our recreational time (Damn you, Johnny Cherwaty for breaking my Death Star trash playset so prematurely!).
The film is sprinkled with interesting kernels of information about the inception of these toys, the void that they filled (helping kids like me fulfill the three-year gaps between the actual release dates), and peeks into the Kenner playhouse in which they were created. It shines light on a seldom-seen segment of one of the most enduring film series of all time. Even those who could recite every line from every original film will be surprised as to why the early lightsabers brandished by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader took on those odd pointy shapes, Boba Fett’s original design, or that the original concept for a Jawa was created from a sock.
There is little doubt as to how special the toy line was to the creators of Plastic Galaxy, as they had nothing but fond memories of their own for the line of toys that elevated a tiny company into a titan almost overnight, and it even demonstrated that, just as the action figures’ audience matured and “grew out” of the toy phase, attempts to lure them back with more sophisticated swag ultimately faded.
Throughout Plastic Galaxy, though, the mood is light, bouncy and brimming with love for its characters — both plastic and flesh-and-blood. Though it may have been “A long time ago,” those childhood memories will come flooding back to audience members, and not feel as though they were in a “galaxy far, far away.”