1998 Princess Leia in Hoth gear.

All photos by Becky Green Photography, effects by me.

  • Blaster Rifle (A slightly incorrect model, as she didn't procure an Imperial blaster rifle as pictured below until her escape from Cloud City with Lando, Chewie, and the droids, and was wearing another outfit by that point.)

"I'd rather kiss a Wookie!"
This 12" figure of Princess Leia Organa is taken from The Empire Strikes back, arguably the best of the original Star Wars movies (certainly the darkest). In the movie, Leia is part of the Rebel command structure working to secure the newest base on the ice planet of Hoth. While she doesn't do much fighting in this part of the movie, she does have a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, and can be seen giving orders for the evacuation of the base long after the Imperials discover and attack it.

"You stuck up, scruffy-
looking... nerd herder!"
I just barely purchased this 15 year-old figure from an antique store. Not only was this figure cheap, but I didn't have to pay shipping either! I was pretty excited to find it, as I had been hoping to get a Princess Leia figure for a while, but didn't like the version dressed in the costume from A New Hope. As an extra plus, she matches the Hoth Luke Skywalker I already have, and the Hoth Han Solo I hope to get. All the Hoth figures are high quality, and I'm glad to add them to my collection. Her clothing is authentic and stitched well, and though her skin color is much too yellow and the paint simplistic, her face is a surprisingly good likeness. In general, Kenner makes slightly horrendous female figures, but this is one of the better ones. One thing that bugs me: though her hair is well made, the hairline around her ears is too high, and makes her look weirdly shaved, even though she had those 1980s pronounced female side-burns in the movie.

While I've always appreciated how beautiful Princess Leia is, I've never had the typical male-geek obsession with her (though the gold bikini in Return of the Jedi was, and always will be, hot). I enjoyed watching her on screen because of her confidence and ability to blast stormtroopers when needed, as well as her caustic wit when it comes to Han. I feel like they're the perfect couple: drawn to each other even though they hate the idea of the other, and never mushy. Reading the Star Wars EU books has given me an extra appreciation for Leia, though I must admit they have never really explored her potential, and have perhaps written her with less finesse than the other characters. Still, I think she's an awesome character and I hope any girls I have in the future will look to her as the princess they emulate, rather than the many pink-ified Disney ones.

A death in the family.

Watching your family dwindle is a desperate and lonely thing. Though I still have my mother, brothers, sisters-in law, many cousins, aunts, and uncles left, their numbers were reduced by one last night.

My Uncle Steve passed away in his sleep after years fighting cancer.

I didn't know him well. When I was less than two-years old, my father, Uncle Steve's brother, divorced my mother and left us, taking his side of the family with him, grandparents and all. My mother's side of the family has been absent and silent my whole life, and were never a factor. As I grew up I didn't particularly miss my father's side, as many families of a single parent learn to make do and don't know any better. But as I grew into a teenager and later entered my early twenties, I started to feel bitter about my father's side of the family that hadn't--in my mind--done anything to reach out to us like they should have.

Then my own brother got divorced and left his family. None of us were prepared, and none of us could have imagined the rift that immediately opened between his ex-wife and us, and by extension, his four young boys. Things spiraled into madness and my brother's children ended up halfway across the country with their mother, leaving the rest of us with spinning heads. The damage is done, and I don't know what to do.

I understand now how hard it is to reach out to a family torn apart by divorce. Misinformation, discomfort, animosity, and reluctance, both sides experience all these things to some level, and the walls they erect are powerful, even when it comes to children who don't deserve the effects of divorce. I no longer carry any bitterness toward my uncles and aunts for the lonely life my mother and brothers lived growing up, I'm simply saddened by the circumstances. I would apologize for the anger they probably never knew I felt.

Last year I had the chance to attend a family reunion for the first time in over ten years, and re-acquainted myself with a family of good people I wish I knew better. I spent some time with my dad, shook lots of hands, and relearned names, including Uncle Steve's. Though my grandmother--the person I had known best of all of them--had died years before, I thought of her as I hugged my grandpa.

Now, with another death in the family, thoughts of her are also echoing in my mind.

Uncle Steve's death marks another lost opportunity for me, just as my grandmother's had years before. Death is so very final, and marks the ending of a life that will never return, no matter how we rationalize as the years go that we will make the wrongs of divorce right eventually and someday make the ties of family strong once more. For Uncle Steve and I, that time passed, and I will never know the man his wife and children describe as so strong and wonderful.

I wish I had known him. I don't know when he was born, I don't know what he did in life, or much about his legacy. I wish I could cry for a beloved uncle, but tears won't come for a stranger, sad as that sounds, though a pain in my chest and ache in my head swells when I think about his death. I know others are crying, those that were closest to him, and my heart goes out to them.

Life is too short for a decades-old divorce to keep family apart, plain and simple. My own father won't live forever, and despite his wronging of my immediate family those decades ago, I can't stand the thought of his passing in the same manner as Uncle Steve's. I'm grateful for all the attempts that have been made over the years by my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and hope to do more on my part to accept them. It would be tragic if my eventual children were ever separated from their own cousins, so why should I be separated from mine?

The time is always now, whether it be family strengthened, dreams pursued, or goals set.

1998 Emperor Palpatine from Return of the Jedi by Kenner.

All photos by Becky Green Photography. Lightning and effects by me.
  • Knobbly Cane
  • Pure Evil

I love that he has
a cane.
This 12" Emperor Palpatine figure comes straight from Return of the Jedi, the last of the Star Wars movies (so far). In the movies, he's the ruler of the Galactic Empire, a dictator with a hatred for all non-humans, the dark center of the galaxy, and the acting force behind Darth Vader's many atrocities. Luke Skywalker's character arc peaks during his confrontation with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, where the Emperor's cruel order to join the Dark Side or watch his friends die brings an emotional and powerful climax to the trilogy. (I'm not sure anyone was expecting freaking lightning to shoot from his fingers!) Vader kind of messes the Emperor's plan up by betraying his master and helping his son defeat the darkness whirling within him, but it was a good plan for a while. Paplatine dies screaming, thrown down an air shaft, where his Dark Side energy explodes and nearly drags a wounded Vader down with him.

"If you will not be turned,
you will be destroyed!"
This is one of the new figures I've purchased in the last month. And by "new," I mean new to me. He's actually fifteen years old, but came to me sealed and pristine in his original packaging. I originally purchased him in tandem with a new figure of Luke (more on him to come), but fell in love with him as soon as I opened the box. The detail on his face and hands is exquisite, by far the best sculpt job of any of the 12" figures I own so far. Everyone I've shown him to gives me the same reaction: "Oh, he's creepy!" I love it. His robes are well made and the falls of fabric actually look like the costume from the movie. The only downsides I can see are his resistance to standing up straight (which the figure stands I purchased will rectify as soon as they get here) and a strange decision by the manufacturer to sew his hood to the top of his head. It makes his head seem kind of flat and smashed on top, so I stuffed some tissues under the hood to give it some extra volume. I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep collecting more Palpatine stuff, he's just that cool.

"It is inevitable. You–like
your father–are now... mine."
I don't know if I've ever come across a character that does the "evil overlord" archetype better (Sauron from Lord of the Rings certainly comes to mind, but I'm not sure who wins out). Palpatine is evil as all get out, unseen in the original trilogy until the final movie, which was an excellent move: letting the obvious intimidation of Vader run the show for so long, until–BAM!–someone even more evil shows up. I'll never forget the first time I saw his shuttle fly into the Deathstar, surrounded by ranks of white stormtroopers and greeted by a nervous–nervous!–Darth Vader: the low male's chorus in the background (love his theme), the bleak atmosphere, the slow reveal of the character from the hem of his plain black robes up, not to mention that damn creepy cackle he weirds Vader out with a minute later as they talk. Oh man, such a great character. I actually used his general appearance and creep factor to inspire one of the characters from one of my novels.

If the video below doesn't show up on your smartphone, use a desktop. Not sure why that is.