For better or for worseworse, only because action figures ain't cheap when they're purchased by the poundStar Wars has become our children's Wizard of Oz. OK, perhaps not your children's, but I know a few almost-4-year-olds who'd rather go to Tatooine than travel over any silly rainbow, ride with C-3PO rather than some Cowardly Lion and hang with Obi-Wan rather than a man behind some flimsy curtain. And these kids discovered Star Wars on their own, not as extensions of their daddy's childhood fantasies and fetishes; trust me here, I was a Trekkie. As the franchise approached its May 25 anniversary30 years, seems like yesterdayit's never been more in and of the culture, an inescapable part of the lexicon and landscape. It's as though George Lucas' galaxy far, far away has always been so very, very close to homeespecially if your home is now filled with obscure action figures named IG-88 and Dengar.
It could not get any closer than it does this very week, as props and sets from all six Star Wars films move into the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History on Saturday for a three-month stay (through September 3) as part of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition. Making its debut at the Museum of Science in Boston in 2005three years after folks there started working with Lucasfilm execsit's been touring the country the last two years and couldn't have landed locally at a better date, only weeks after the epochal anniversary. And not only does it feature the obvious and expected thingslike, oh, Darth Vader's costume and life-sized replicas of your favorite Laurel and Hardy droidsbut also Luke's Landspeeder parked next to a real-world hovercraft in which the kids can take a short spin whilst floating a few feet above the ground. Seescience, meet imagination. Thats how this thing works.
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There are hands-on droid exhibitsbuild your own, Anakin-styleand a life-sized mock-up of a Jawa Sandcrawler, inside of which an animatronic C-3PO debates the finer points of real-world robotics with the hologram of an MIT engineer. You'll find moisture farms and space ports and hands-on exhibits (build this, guide this, move this) alongside Han Solo and Chewbacca's costumes. The exhibit, which spawned a nifty companion book, is a dork's mash-up, a cross between a science classroom and sci-fi convention. So when you see some dudes in storm trooper costumes, just nod politely and tell 'em you're not the droids theyre looking for. The museum is located at 1501 Montgomery St. in Fort Worth. Exhibition admission is $10 to $20. Call 817-255-9540 or visit fortworthmuseum.com.
June 9-Sept. 3