Thursday, September 18, 2008

Early Bird Round Two!

Or how I got my Early Bird groove on!

2005, Revenge of the Sith, Midnight Madness! The only Midnight Madness I have attended, for two reasons. One, I thought it would be the last time to experience something like this event and two, a rumor of a second Early Bird Kit. This was a second chance to get something similar to the Early Bird Kit of my youth. This time I was coming armed with a short list of things I wanted, Early Bird at the top of the list and money! Nothing was going to stop me. I was determined to get two of these bastards!

Midnight Madness fell on a Friday and lasted until the wee hours of Saturday morning. It was a good month or two before the release of Revenge of the Sith. I rested most of the day Friday, taking a short nap when I got home from work. I had my plan ready and money set aside. I was just waiting for the magic hour.

I planned to hit a Wal Mart first. Wal Mart was where the Early Bird kit was an exclusive. By this time I knew that the kit was a reproduction of the earlier kit from 1977. I knew that the figures were to be re-sculpts of the first four from the original redemption, and I knew they would initially be about 20 bucks. What I didn't know was that they would not be put out till the following morning under a giant tent in the parking lot. When I showed up at the store at 11:45 PM Friday night, the staff was just setting up the tent. I didn't realize what it was for, I just walked past thinking it was a seasonal thing. I walked straight to the toy section and was surprised to see nothing new set up. There were three other people waiting, I remember thinking this was a little less than I expected. We all waited and talked till 12:00 when a manger came by and said they would not sale anything until the morning under the tent in the parking lot. The other three were pissed to say the least, come to find out one was an employee of that store and had no clue. They said a few choice words to the manager (I thought risky at the time, especially if you are an employee) and mentioned hitting Target. I thanked the manager and said I would see her in the morning then, I passed the three in the parking lot and said I was heading to Toys R Us, they laughed and I said I'll see you there, Target wouldn't be participating till the morning as well. Thirty minutes later I was standing amongst friendlier collectors at Toys R Us. I made a selection of a 12" Clone Trooper, a Clone Trooper with action feature (reminded me of the old Superpowers figures), and a cool looking stylized Darth Vader. As I was finishing my purchase the three from Wal Mart came dragging in. I smiled and asked how they did at Target, they told me it was closed and grunted something about being a smart ass. A smart ass that was ahead of the game!

So I climbed in my car ready to go home, when I thought there is a Wal Mart close to here I wonder if they are doing the tent thing. So I decided it was late, I was up, might as well drive by. I pulled into the parking lot around 2:00 AM and no tent. I decided to take a trek inside and see what was going on. As I made my way to the toys I noticed a large crowd than the previous Wal Mart, though smaller than Toys R Us. There seemed to be a little disturbance going on, nothing out of control, just people questioning a couple of the employees. I asked a man that was standing there with his son what was going on. He said they let people start to pick up stuff then said that they were going to close the section down until tomorrow and had time to set up a tent. I asked if they were still letting people buy stuff, and at that time a employee said that they would let people continue to shop the stuff they had put out, but the rest would not be put out until the morning.

I turned to the man and asked if they had seen an Early Bird Kit, he said they were just about to put it out when they carted it and some other stuff to the back, that was just before I walked up. I decide to look around and I ended up picking up a Darth Vader action figure and as I walked around the corner noticed the Batman figures from Batman Begins. I knew these were not supposed to be out yet so I grabbed a couple of the different Batmans and headed to the house. I made it home around 3:00 AM that morning and set the alarm for six. When it went off I woke up my son who decided to join me for this last leg of the Midnight Madness and we left as fast as we could. We stopped to get a quick breakfast at Mc Donald's and hit the road back to the first Wal Mart, making it there just around 7:30 AM. The tent was to open at 8:00 AM that morning and so we stood there for a short time. You could see into the tent, the whole front was open, people were pointing at all the stuff they were going to get, I kept looking for the Early Bird Kit, where was it? They opened the ropes at eight I told my son what I was looking for and that he could get whatever he wanted. I was starting to panic as I walked around from display to display with no kit to be found, when I heard him call out "Dad, dad are these it?" I looked at the back of the tent and he was standing pointing to a pallet of Early Bird Kits. I rushed over and pulled the first two from the pallet, my son picked up a Lego set and a book and we headed for the cashier. The cashier was actually surprised we only had four items; the guy behind us was buying a basket full of carrying cases and another of action figures. We headed home and I collapsed till the afternoon when I finally opened an Early Bird Kit and filled out the form for my long awaited figures.

Months passed Early Bird Kits were plentiful, seems they were not as popular as I had thought. The Carrying cases were extremely popular. I was not in it for the mad eBay money; I was still sold on the thought of the Early Bird Kit. I did pick up an additional one for five bucks at a clearance aisle. I just couldn't leave it there, so I ended up with three, two that I filled out, and one I kept packaged. Months past, Revenge of the Sith wasn't what I thought it would be, a few more weeks past, then in my mailbox a small white box. The Early Bird Kits arrived! I was surprised to find that they had the little tray, the foot pegs, and the bow caster had some green on it. Luke had a straight arm and a somewhat familiar extending light saber, one of my favorite renditions of the character. R2 had a dome that turned and would raise his sensor scope, Leia was just as dainty and regal as the first time I saw her in 78' on that bus, and Chewy, he was huge. Chewbacca was in scale with the others, and possibly one of the best versions of the character ever. I knew as I held these that eventually they would all be repackaged and re-released in stores countless times, but for a time I was little again and all the wonder of the Early Bird Kit was mine at last.

May the Force Be With You Indeed!

1 comment:

rob! said...

i never knew they did this, pretty cute.

i wish Mattel did mail-in stuff for JLU, that was a really fun, exciting element of toy collecting when i was a kid.