Time and space have no end for Star Wars fans


Prized possession: Mark Sherrard-Griffith with the centrepiece of his Star Wars collection, a prototype Darth Vader mask. Picture: Yanni

IT may have started as a pure flight of fancy, and has developed into one of the most successful marketing and branding exercises the world has known, but there seems no end to epic that is Star Wars.

The movies have been shown (repeatedly), merchandise made, costumes worn, snatches of dialogue endlessly swapped and still the lure of time and travel seems infinite.

Like space, the story of the Star Wars phenomena seems to have no outer limits.

Next week’s May the Fourth Be With You Day is being as eagerly anticipated around the globe as the staged releases of the Star Wars movies.

Mark Sherrard-Griffith happily admits to being one of the worldwide network of Stars Wars fans.

His family knows it and his wife, Prue, was left in no doubt what she has signing up for when they were married. When the screening of multiple Star Wars movies during last year’s May The Fourth Be With You Day coincided with a Michael Buble concert Mr Sherrard-Griffith was forced to do his own shuttle: Knox for the movie marathon, back to Mornington for Prue and then Melbourne for the concert.

Last year’s May The Fourth Be With You Day saw Darth Vader and Stormtroopers appearing at AFL games and clubs selling out of specially printed shirts.

This year coincides with the release of the second teaser trailer of a new Star Wars film and all major toy stores planning commemorative May The Fourth Be With You Day releases of limited edition items.

As recently as two weeks ago Mr Sherrard-Griffith’s mother was texting and sending photos of Star Wars items she had spotted while shopping. Despite him replying that they were already part of his 1000 plus piece collection, his mother returned with $200 to secure the “bargains”.

But the best bargain of all was not fully appreciated until a few weeks ago when Mr Sherrard-Griffith confirmed that a Darth Vader mask he bought for $20 in 2009 was probably worth $10,000.

The mask had been brought to Australia by an American (who Mr Sherrard-Griffith met when he delivered a mattress made, of course, with space-age materials) who, when entering the house, remarked “so, you’re a Star Wars fan?”, adding that he had a mask.

The deal was made with the deliveryman saying the $20 would pay for his lunch.

“I wasn’t intending to take him for a ride,” Mr Sherrard-Griffith says. “It was only a few weeks ago I saw it had 20th Century Fox 1977 hand scratched inside.”

Investigation overseas proved the mask to be one of three or four that were handmade by Don Post for design approval by Star Wars director George Lucas.

“My collection also includes a life size Jawa and Darth Maul, handmade pieces, unopened vintage figures from 1983, a factory sealed-in-box vehicle from 1984, which is worth a mint, and many other fantastic items.”

Mr Sherrard-Griffith acknowledges the ever increasing commercialisation of Star Wars but sees it also as being “fan made and I’m happy to go along for the ride”.

The 40-year-old Mornington real estate agent (Ufirst) has $300 lightsabers – “not those dinky ones” – and a collection of figures in glass-fronted cabinets that he tells young relatives “probably come out to play at night”.

And does he feel secure sleeping with all that intergalactic activity happening just outside his bedroom door?

“Of course, I always sleep with blaster by my side.”


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