Jun 30, 2017

[Movies] Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014) Review

When it comes to streaming services like Netflix and iflix, it's safe to say that most of the movies that I want to see, I've already seen. So by the time they get added to these platforms, I vaguely consider watching them again, but only if the right mood strikes. So instead I end up watching various documentaries when I'm in the mood for more long format content to help pass the time.

Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys was one that caught my eye while scrolling through the iflix library. I'm enough of science fiction geek to want to learn more about this aspect of the Star Wars universe, especially given the key role that merchandising has played in the larger Star Wars experience.

And as anyone who has visited our Sietch can attest to, Tobie and I have no qualms about collecting items of geeky significance as part of our increasingly geeky lives. So let's dive right in.

Synopsis: Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys is a 2014 documentary written and directed Brian Stillman. It's main focus is the initial Kenner action figure line based on the Star Wars movie franchise.

In that time before the internet and digital content, Star Wars hit theaters. And it was such a phenomenal cinematic experience that people left theaters wanting to hold onto that feeling. And thus the merchandising boom tied to the movie leading to the first major toyline based on a movie.

This documentary traces the history of how these figures came to be. The initial set may not look great by modern toy standards but at the time it was remarkable as it was a way to "own" a part of the movie experience somehow. And the popularity of the movies fed the popularity of the toys and a new industry grew out of all this.

What I Liked: You can't get past the sheer number of toys featured in this movie and it is amazing how many collectors they managed to sign up for this movie only to feature their stuff here. That first set of figures including a rather basic stand? Oh yeah they had it. All the big vehicle sets?  Sure they're there as well. What about the almost mythical Boba Fett figure with missile launcher? Yeah they talked about that too!

So this is one big geek celebration of the wonders of the Star Wars toyline and the many toys that followed and even the retro nostalgia line that tired to copy the style of those older toys in terms of packaging. This is a real thing, people. And this is a seriously geeky documentary

What Could Have Been Better: That said, this is not the most engaging documentary. It's pretty factual and at times a little dry as it goes from moment to moment in the history of this toyline. I think the initial discussions were pretty good but the middle part does get a little muddy as we just have fan interview after fan interview.

To be fair, it's not like this documentary can have drama of some sort like we see in other documentary features. There aren't too many fascinating controversies to unearth beyond maybe things like missile-launching Boba Fett. And thus the show doesn't have too great a focus in the middle to the end but at least isn't as nebulous as Trekkies was with its fans around the world format.

TL;DR: If you're a Star Wars fan or a least a toy fan, then Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys is going to be fun for you. If you're not, then it may feel like a rather niche subject handled in a somewhat dry way. And thus the documentary gets a respectable 3.5 rare Star Wars figures out of a possible 5.


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