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Star Wars: Don't miss this huge Star Wars exhibition coming to Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:41 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:25 27 September 2019

Darth Vader makes his entrance in the 1977 movie

Darth Vader makes his entrance in the 1977 movie "Star Wars." Photo: 20th Century Fox

Star Wars was the movie which launched a merchandise revolution. Now Bury's Moyse's Hall museum is taking a trip back in time to stage an exhibition of classic era toys and memorabilia

The original 1977 Star Wars poster image which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's HallThe original 1977 Star Wars poster image which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's Hall

In a galaxy far, far away, a cultural phenomenon was born. Star Wars launched itself onto the big screen in 1977 in a blaze of laser bolts and that glorious, never-ending shot of an Imperial Star Destroyer sweeping over the heads of cinema audiences.

Star Wars was a force of nature and it reshaped not only the way Hollywood worked - it created the big summer blockbuster - it also re-launched our love of science fiction.

One of the reasons that Star Wars became such a cultural cornerstone of the age was that it was the first movie to really embrace merchandise - Planet of the Apes may have produced some plastic face masks and some books but Star Wars went far beyond that and created a new industry.

Organiser of the Star Wars May The Toys Be With You exhibition Lance Alexander   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNOrganiser of the Star Wars May The Toys Be With You exhibition Lance Alexander Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

It invented the movie tie-in action figure and launched a successful invasion of the world of model aircraft. Whereas World War II fighters like the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt 109 had been the big sellers for decades, now everyone wanted to start building faithful replicas of The Millennium Falcon, rebel X-Wings and Imperial TIE fighters.

Now, Star Wars fans, both young and old, can embrace this world once again as Moyse's Hall museum in Bury St Edmunds, has made the jump into hyper-space to bring together some of those original classic toys for their 11th annual sci-fi exhibition, wittily titled 'May The Toys Be With You'.

The exhibition of vintage Star Wars toys and memorabilia is under the watchful eye of Lance Alexander, heritage operations manager, who is a huge Star Wars fan and a collector himself.

The original Death Star playset which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's HallThe original Death Star playset which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's Hall

He points out that while Star Wars broke box office records no one could have predicted that the merchandising would go on to earn even more than the film itself. The toys took the world by storm and became the must-have playthings for an entire generation.

From 1977-1985 an estimated 300 million action figures were sold. From X-wing fighters to lightsabers, these fantastical concepts have fired our imaginations and stamped their place on our cultural landscape. For little and big kids alike this is an unmissable opportunity to view many rarely seen Star Wars Treasures.

Lance says: "Star Wars remains a huge franchise today but in the late 1970s and early '80s it was 'The' cult movie franchise. Nothing else came close - not even Richard Donner's Superman franchise with its 50 comic book history nor Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies."

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo,  in the original 1977 film Star Wars: Photo: Lucas Film/20th Century FoxMark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo, in the original 1977 film Star Wars: Photo: Lucas Film/20th Century Fox

Visitors will be able to see a unique selection of a highly collectable vintage toy line and also of the iconic design work and art of the Star Wars movies on their doorsteps from September 28 - December 24.

The exhibition restricts itself to toys and memorabilia from the original late '70s-early '80s period giving visitors a chance to experience some wonderful nostalgia and to give younger visitors a glimpse at what fandom was like back when their parents were young.

Lance says: "It's also a chance for those of us who were around back then to revisit the toys of our youth. I started collecting in 1978, saving up pocket money to buy action figures from Woolworths and for us even the packaging captures the spirit of the times. It is a real treat to see them again in all their glory.

A replica of Darth Vader's iconic helmet which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's HallA replica of Darth Vader's iconic helmet which forms part of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds Photo Moyse's Hall

"The museum is delighted to be the first in this region to display this amazing collection. Many of the pieces are incredibly rare and valuable, complete and even after 40 years in mint condition. Also to see paraphernalia surrounding the toys like movie posters, toy adverts and original blue prints only adds to the special display at Moyse's Hall."

So are there any items that stand out for you or are particularly special? "I have to say it's great to see the Death Star playset all laid out. It was incredibly expensive and very rare back in the day. We could have never afforded it, even if we had been able to track down a copy.

"It's very simple but effective, just photographed sets printed on cardboard which are just assembled but to see it all laid out and populated with figures sets my seven year old heart racing."

Darth Vader is shown in a scene from Lucasfilm's Darth Vader is shown in a scene from Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," Photo: Lucas Film/20th Century Fox

This special exhibition opens on Saturday September 28 in a fun-filled launch weekend with a chance to meet and take a selfie with Darth Vader, plus other costumed characters.

As 2017's family friendly museum of the year, Moyse's Hall will be celebrating half-term in full sci-fi style with exhibition trails, quizzes, and have-a-go activities.

On Saturday and Sunday October 19-20 Vader's Raiders will be making an appearance with everyone from Stormtroopers to Wookies, Sith Lords to R2-D2. Visitors can have a picture taken, hear advice on how to join the Empire or just tell them where the Droids are hidden.

Then from October 24-25 future TIE Fighter Pilot, Scout Trooper, AT-AT driver, Death Star Janitor or Stormtroopers should come down to a special recruitment day. There will be an opportunity to meet Captain Xander, handle blaster rifles, pistols and Imperial equipment. Added attractions will include opportunities to use the laser gun shooting range and learning the Aurebesh Star Wars alphabet.

A certificate will be issued to all successful recruits. Booking essential for these one-off sessions.

And if that wasn't enough to draw in fans of all ages, every visitor entering the exhibition will be entered in to a draw to win their very own piece of movie history. Courtesy of the exhibition sponsor The Movie Reliquary you could win a rare piece of the Death Star used in 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi'.

The exhibition will be open Monday to Saturday from Saturday September 28 to Tuesday December 24 2019, 10am - 5pm and Sunday, 12-4pm. Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for children.

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