It may have been the Mos Eisley Spaceport that caused Obi-Wan Kenobi to proclaim, "You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy," but this past Friday night a crowd formed in New York's Times Square that was far more dangerous than the gang at the creature cantina. These were die-hard "Star Wars" fans foaming at the mouth, vying to get the first toys from "Revenge of the Sith," and not even a desert full of Sarlacc pits would be able to stop them.
It was a few minutes before midnight in the city that never sleeps, and a large number of men and women (and surprisingly few children) were planning to get even less sleep than usual. Jedi knights stood in line at the Toys 'R' Us at 44th and Broadway with their lightsabers sheathed; Boba Fett and a few of his clones discussed shopping strategies; Tuscan Raiders, Darth Vaders and dozens of briefly glimpsed Star Wars critters eyed each other suspiciously (see "Attention, 'Star Wars' Geeks: To A Toy Store, Go You Must").
The evening's "Chosen One" was Julio Rodriguez, the first person in line, dressed in a pea coat and gray hooded sweatshirt, with some sort of complicated ear piece and microphone protruding from his hood. "I feel like it is my place here," Rodriguez insisted, revealing no plans to let the Wookie (several places behind him in line) win. "I should be number one. I've been here since one in the afternoon. I'm still standing, and I'll be standing until they open up. I can't wait to see what they have inside."
Oddly enough, the most common outfit beyond the gleaming white stormtrooper suits and Jedi robes was the standard, hooded sweatshirt. Perhaps there's an unspoken dress code among aspiring bounty hunters, stating that if one does not have the guts to dress up as Yoda, they must at least wear the sacred cloak of a Champion zip-up. "I am TB3689 of the New England garrison of the 501st stormtrooper division," a man dressed in a flawless stormtrooper uniform proclaimed. "I am here to promote the dark side of the force." Go ahead — just try telling that guy that you're taking the last Mace Windu Force Combat figure.
Mary, a polite woman with a pleasant disposition, dressed up like one of the Tuscan Raiders who tortured and slaughtered Anakin's mother. Toilet paper rolls protruded from her eyes; what looks like a deflated boxing glove for a mouth was held in place by a maroon scarf; silver pen caps served as her horns, and what appeared to be a torn-up ace bandage created her wrap-around head covering. Speaking with a reporter, she reached into the weapons pouch looped around her waist — was she pulling out a thermal detonator to take out those ahead of her in line? "It's my cell phone," she said, as innocently as any woman with toilet paper rolls in her eyes could.
Many of the people in line traveled from so far away that you would think they'd used hyperspace. A group of four middle-aged women from Ireland wouldn't give their names, and for some reason were all dressed in white coats (the Mon Mothma fan club, perhaps?). Considering their choice of outfits, they're asked whether they prefer the light or dark side of the force. "We swing both ways," one said without missing a beat, making the others double over in laughter.
A good deal of laughter could be heard in the line, which snaked around the block, and a tangible sense of camaraderie could be felt. For some, however, the best strategy for walking away with the most toys was to stay unemotionally attached to those nearby. "I'm here to get rid of the rebel scum," said a full-on Boba Fett, clutching his weapon. "See? There's some Jedi over there, and some rebel troopers over there."
Boba Fett declared that he would happily blast "anyone who gets out of line." The poor guy never even got to squeeze the trigger.
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