May The Toys Be With You Review

May The Toys Be With You Review

My name is Ian and I am studying Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester. I am doing a work placement at The Atkinson Gallery. I have been working with the curator to promote the Star Wars toys exhibition. May the Toys be With You holds a vast accumulation of Star Wars memorabilia owned by collector and fan Matt Fox.

I volunteered to work on opening day and I met Matt just before the exhibition opened to the public. He told me has been collecting Star Wars memorabilia for most of his life. He began as a young boy and started collecting again after re-discovering them in his twenties. He bought ‘job lot’ figures from Ebay, cleaned them up and kept the best ones for his own collection. I also used to collect the figures and have still got a box of them at my mother’s house!

In the foyer you could hear the dramatic Star Wars film music by John Williams coming from behind a large scale fan-made model of an X-Wing fighter. Here you could take a seat in the cockpit of the spaceship and pose for a photo. You don’t get to do that every day!

Matt’s collection features numerous rare vintage toys, primarily, vehicles and figures with other Star Wars memorabilia spanning 1977 to 1985. These include the final line of figures in production known as the ‘Last 17’. Each figure has a special edition collector’s coin. Seeing them all together in one place with the coins is probably a once in a lifetime experience. You can also see the highly collectable ‘variant’ figures which have slightly different colours, clothing and hair.

The space vehicle toys include the canine-like At-At from the film The Empire Strikes Back as well as the famous Millennium Falcon, which was flown around the galaxy by Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca which is seen throughout the film (and in the 2015 film The Force Awakens).

The collection also features Star Wars film posters including the first poster from 1977 by the Hildebrandt Brothers who worked together around the clock to produce it. Another must-see piece is the artwork of Tom Beauvais in an original poster design (which is hand-painted) of the same year. This has got to be my favourite as it’s so detailed and is the only poster in existence to show Luke in his Stormtrooper outfit!

Another highlight of May the Toys Be With You is the interactive green screen where kids and parents can stand in front of it and dress up as the heroes and villains from the films. They then appear on the opposite wall as a projection shows a Star Wars backdrop! The use of a lightsabre is optional (but recommended) and this exhibition is definitely a ‘must see’ for Star Wars fans – old and young alike.

By Ian Pitts



Posted on 19 January 2017 under Exhibitions, Review

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