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Star Wars Experience Ė London Toy Hunt
by Joris DeSmet

One Day in 1999
Whenever a Star Wars fan is having a vacation, he's keeping his eyes open for Star Wars. He just can't keep himself from snooping around a bit in toyshops and put the slightest reference to Star Wars on picture. Well, I'm no different, of course.

Back in 1999 I was visiting London together with my baby sister, who worked in the UK for a couple of months. Of course we visited a number of the more common ďattractionsĒ first, but I couldn't help putting a number of places on the program where there might be some Star Wars to be found or seen...

The Harrods Shopping Mall, for instance, was surely a "hit" at that time ...; we just had had Episode I in the theatres and the initial merchandise rush had quiet down a bit. But the special attire that Harrods had put in place for that event was still in place and it sure was a sight to behold. A special section of the toy aisle was reserved for Star Wars and so the typical black and red from the Episode I toy line set the tone. I was wandering around a bit there when I discovered the immense, life-size Droid Starfighter above my head! Its likeness to the movie version was astonishing and it surely made for a couple of nice pictures.

Another nice surprise was waiting a couple floors up in the LEGO section, where a life-size LEGO Vader was overseeing the shelves. A lot later, I was quite surprised to see that same LEGO Vader turn up in an on-line shop where he was sold at the feeble price of £1,000! Considering that little wee fact I donít know who is worth the most in this picture Ö me or Darth LEGO here!

I ended my London Star Wars adventure in an immense gaming hall where I had the opportunity to play a SEGA X-wing game that resembled the first PC Rebel Assault game a lot. The game play and graphics were more or less the same and the missions equally had the same ring to them, but the story and the transition films were quite different from anything I ever played before. The specially adapted seat and keyboard, however, made for a very nice experience. And Iím quite proud that I got relatively far with just one coin Ö I guess I had Rebel Assault still in my fingers.

There probably was much more Star Wars to find in the London streets, if you just know where to look; which I didnít. But I had a good time there anyway and it proves that our favourite Universe is never far away. The next time Iíll go there, Iíll make sure Iíll call on some fellow fans to lead the way, though Ö

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