At midnight on September 4, toy stores everywhere around the world will open late (or early if you prefer) to reveal the brand new merchandise and toys supporting "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." The swag has never been seen before, save for a few items rolled out over the past few days, so for fans of the franchise this is on par with a once-in-a-lifetime religious event.
Except, it's an event that's happened before, way back in 1999. That's the year the first "Star Wars" prequel, "The Phantom Menace," opened in theaters. Just like this year's Force Friday, all the toys were rolled out for the first time a few weeks before release -- and fans grabbed them like water to a dying man.
Part of that was anticipation for "Phantom Menace," part was because in the intervening years since "Return of the Jedi," the collectors market for toys -- and "Star Wars" toys in particular -- had grown exponentially.
Whatever the reason, though, fans hit toy stores that midnight, and they hit them hard. And for some of them, it was a night they'd never forget... For multiple reasons, as you can see in this vintage news report from KMOV in St. Louis.
There's a lot to unpack there, but the quote that gets me every time I watch this video? A fan saying, "I have this nightmare of looking at myself three weeks from now, coming out of the worst movie I've ever seen, knowing that I've blown a fortune on all of this stuff."
Hopefully fans lining up to buy toys featuring Kylo Ren, BB-8 and more won't be burned as hard as this one fan from 1999 was... But for now -- and at least until the movie opens on December 18 -- they'll have this one, magical night to blow a fortune, connect with other fans, and let the force be with them.