Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, August 24, 2022, or: My Most Treasured ‘Star Wars’ Collectible

My two box sets of The Complete Star Wars Trilogy : The Original Radio Dramas. The one on the left is the “basic” $99.95 set; the one on the right is the Collector’s Limited Edition (#3543). You can see Luke Skywalker’s “Red Five” X-Wing Fighter behind them, as well as a couple of other collectibles and engine parts for the Rebel Y-Wing Fighter. (Photo by the author)

If you’re a regular reader of A Certain Point of View, Too, you know – or should know by now – that I am a Star Wars fan.

Even though I did not embrace George Lucas’s original 1977 film when it went to Miami theaters in early June of 1977, I eventually came around by the time I started junior high in the fall of that year, and because popular movies sometimes got extended theatrical “runs”  in those last years before videocassette recorders became as ubiquitous as toasters in American households, I was able to qualify as a “1977 Generation” fan.

Since we moved into the townhouse in East Wind Lake Village in late February of 1978 (and brought to the Tampa area when I relocated here in 2016), I have assembled a collection of Star Wars-related items, including:

See? I collect Star Wars-related stuff! You can see the pricey Collector’s Limited Edition set on the topmost shelf in this photo I took of my Billy shelf a few months ago.
  • Action figures and toy replicas of many of the Star Wars saga’s vehicles, including Luke Skywalker’s “Red Five” X-wing fighter and the Imperial TIE Fighter
  • Novels (including novelizations of the movies), comic books, making-of books, and reference works, and homages/adaptations to other literary genres, such as the mashup William Shakespeare’s Star Wars ennealogy by Ian Doescher
  • Home media releases of the various live-action and animated films and TV series, ranging from the Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga ennealogy to the first season of Star Wars: Resistance; the formats I’ve owned them in are VHS (till 2005), DVD, 2K (high definition) Blu-ray, and 4K (ultra-high definition) Blu-ray
  • Original Motion Picture Soundtracks (for the feature films, anyway); as with the home media releases of the films and TV shows, I have owned these in several formats (vinyl LP, cassette and 8-track audio tape, compact disc, and digital audio
  • Replicas of props (such as Han Solo’s gold dice) and decorative items, such as posters, Star Wars-themed coin banks, and other art

I purchased a lot of my collection on my own. Still, much of it, including 80% of the Hasbro Star Wars action figures from the late 1990s to early 2000s, was given to me as gifts, either by my best friend from Miami-Dade Community College, Rogers Perez, or from two of my ex-girlfriends (who realized early on that the way to my heart wasn’t necessarily via food, but through my Star Wars collection).

Mom (on the right) and I at a neighbor’s holiday party two years before she became seriously ill.

Of course, two of my most prized collectibles were gifts from my late mother, who didn’t become a Star Wars fan until we went to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in the summer of 1980. Although she never became as dedicated a devotee of Lucas’s space-fantasy series as I, she did like it and almost always was willing to watch one of the first six films of the Skywalker saga with me, either at the movies or at home.[1]

My ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ DVD set. My mother gave this to me in 2004 as part of my 41st birthday present. (Photo by the author)

I’ve already written a post about one of these personal treasures – the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD set, which was the 1977-1983 Original Trilogy’s debut in that then-dominant home media format – so if you want to learn more about that, you can read about it here.

The second Most Valuable Collectible (MVC) that my mother gave me is HighBridge Audio’s The Complete Star Wars Trilogy: Original Radio Dramas – Collector’s Limited Edition CD box set. Released in 2007 to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the original Star Wars film, this box set is a ritzier (and therefore more expensive) version of HighBridge’s The Complete Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Radio Dramas set that was released by the Minnesota-based recording company at the same time.

The “J-Card” that came attached to the Collector’s Limited Edition set. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Per the product description page on Amazon:

Only 7,500 of these deluxe sets of this special NPR-produced, dramatization of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were produced. It’s 15 hours on 15 CDs in a handsome, foil-stamped, collector’s slipcase. With special bonus tracks never before available, including interviews with the cast members and much more.

When this series was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981, it generated the largest response in the network’s history: 50,000 letters and phone calls in a single week, an audience of 750,000 per episode, and a subsequent 40-percent jump in NPR listenership.

This landmark production, perhaps the most ambitious radio project ever attempted, began when Star Wars creator George Lucas donated the story rights to an NPR affiliate. Writer Brian Daley adapted the film’s highly visual script to the special demands and unique possibilities of radio, creating a more richly textured tale with greater emphasis on character development. Director John Madden guided a splendid cast—including Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels, reprising their film roles as Luke Skywalker and the persnickety robot See Threepio—through an intense 10-day dialogue recording session. Then came months of painstaking work for virtuoso sound engineer Tom Voegeli, whose brilliant blending of the actors’ voices, the music, and hundreds of sound effects takes this intergalactic adventure into a realm of imagination that is beyond the reach of cinema.

When I ordered this set, which is #3543 out of a production run of just 7,500, in late March of 2008, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) was $122.85. I had a $25 gift certificate that someone – I don’t remember who – gave me for my 45th birthday, and because Amazon did not charge Florida sales tax at the time, Mom only paid $97.85.

Here’s an excerpt from my review in the “banned on Facebook” original A Certain Point of View blog, which I wrote on February 28, 2018:

Though all three radio dramas are available in separate sets and a less expensive Complete Star Wars Trilogy collection, this Collector’s Limited Edition is a nice keepsake or gift for any Star Wars devotee. Only 7,500 sets were made by HighBridge Audio, and each 15-CD set includes an attractive foil-stamped, individually-numbered collector’s slipcase.

Also worth noting are some bonus tracks not available on any of the less expensive versions, including Star Wars-themed become-a-member commercials for NPR, comments from director John Madden, Perry King, Anthony Daniels, and Joshua Fardon, and two versions of the Speeder Bike sequence from Return of the Jedi.

There’s also a very human and sad touch – an audio “Get Well Brian” card recorded to cheer up an ailing Brian Daley, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. He never heard it, having passed away a few hours after the recording sessions for the series ended.

Photo by the author

In addition to this set’s unmeasurable sentimental value, it is perhaps the most expensive collectible that I own, partly because it was, by virtue of being a “limited edition” item, but mostly because HighBridge Audio is no longer publishing or selling any Star Wars audio dramas in the aftermath of George Lucas’s 2012 retirement as chief executive officer of Lucasfilm Limited and the subsequent sale of the company and its valuable intellectual properties to The Walt Disney Company.

Consequently, if you want to buy the only available set offered on Amazon by the third-party seller The Mighty Book, you need to have either a job that really pays well, a parent or significant other with a heart of gold and a healthy bank account, or be a winner of a state lottery. The asking price is – are you sitting down or consuming any beverage like coffee or, say, beer? –  $999.99.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. If a Star Wars – or radio drama buff – truly wants to get this out-of-print (OOP) set, it’ll cost a thousand smackeroos.

Presently, my Collector’s Limited Edition of The Complete Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Radio Dramas sits on a place of honor on my Billy bookshelf from IKEA. I listened to the CDs once when I still lived in South Florida, but never again.

I also own a set of the “plain vanilla” $99.95 set which presents the 13-hour Star Wars Trilogy on 15 discs as heard in rebroadcasts on National Public Radio that were subtly shorter than the original NPR Playhouse presentations of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. As I mentioned earlier, HighBridge Audio (which is owned by Minnesota Public Radio) released the regular The Complete Star Wars Trilogy set simultaneously with the Collector’s Limited Edition to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Again, because this set is also OOP, I don’t think I will listen to the radio dramas on a regular basis. The packaging of the “backup set” is not as nice or sturdy as that of the more valuable Collector’s Limited Edition, and even though I don’t handle it roughly or often, it looks a bit more battered than it should due to the move from Miami to the Tampa Bay area.

Anyway, regardless of how much that limited edition cost then, and no matter how expensive it is now, I treasure the Collector’s Limited Edition of The Complete Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Radio Dramas because my mom gave it to me.

As the MasterCard commercials would say:

Birthday card: $2.50

Set of Star Wars Radio Drama CDs: $122.85

Gift from Mom: Priceless

[1] Because her health began its slow decline sometime in the early 2000s, the last movie Mom watched in a theater was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. When we found out that Disney-owned Lucasfilm was going to make a third trilogy, Mom said she hoped to live to at least see the film which was eventually released as Star Wars: The Force Awaken. Alas, she did not. J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII was released on December 15, 2015, almost five months after my mother’s death.  

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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