Star Wars fans will no doubt be aware that a spectacular exhibition featuring thousands of items of Star Wars merchandise opened in London. Titled The Fans Strike Back, the exhibition was located on Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, and many fans just looked for the building with the giant Darth Vader picture covering its outer wall. The first thing people saw while walking through the entrance was a massive Naboo N-1 Starfighter hanging from the ceiling, so they knew they were in the right place.
Needless to say, the exhibition featured just about every possible kind of Star Wars merchandise you could think of, with everything from action figures, posters, costumes, and life-sized props replicas being displayed. Although there were far too many items to list in this article, some of the highlights included an accurate diorama of the city of Mos Espa, life-sized models of alien characters such as Watto and Salacious B. Crumb, and a stunning miniature reaction of the Battle of Naboo. At the same time, some of the attractions were so massive that you will wonder how they would even fit through the door into the building, with the full-scale model of a Rebel Snowspeeder probably being the largest item in the entire exhibition.
Walking through the exhibition was like being transported into a Star Wars movie because entire areas were decorated as locations from the franchise. These included a tree-filled recreation of the Forest Moon of Endor and a Tatooine-themed area, complete with several Tusken Raiders and a Sandcrawler. The floor of the Tatooine section was covered with a sand-colored carpet as opposed to actual sand, so Anakin Skywalker would probably have approved if he visited. Most of these areas contained designated photo opportunity spots so that you could have your picture taken while sitting on the Emperor’s throne on the Second Death Star or while escaping from the Wampa’s cave on Hoth.
There was also an eclectic mix of mass-produced and much rarer items throughout the exhibition, so the Kenner figures, which were absolutely everywhere throughout the 1990s, were happily displayed alongside the limited edition Hasbro Black Series toys. On the other hand, while most of the pieces were officially licensed merchandise, several fan-made attractions were also on display, including a mannequin dressed as a steampunk iteration of Boba Fett. A descriptive plaque card accompanied every item, so fans could learn plenty of new details as they perused each section. You would certainly have learned a little more about Star Wars after attending The Fans Strike Back, making your trip all the more worthwhile.
Many Star Wars fans will also agree that Genndy Tartakovsky’s fantastic 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series ended far too quickly, which is why attendees were thrilled to see dozens of figures from the series being proudly displayed. There was also a life-sized model of Yoda as he appeared in the show, which fans undoubtedly adored.
Seeing as R2-D2 has always been one of the most bankable characters from the entire Star Wars franchise, it certainly came as no surprise to see the feisty little droid being given his very own section in the exhibition. There was literally an entire portion of a room filled with display cabinets containing nothing but R2-D2 merchandise, and you will genuinely be surprised to see how many R2-D2-themed lunchboxes, toys, and watches have been manufactured over the years. It would be safe to assume that anyone who attends will appreciate R2-D2 and all the positive character traits he represents, which is why it was indeed gratifying to see everyone’s favorite droid being given the respect and recognition he deserves.
And while The Fans Strike Back was almost entirely family-friendly, some surprisingly gruesome pieces were on display. These included a dead Stormtrooper with his eyes bloodily gouged out in the Forest Moon of Endor section and a model of a Wampa with copious amounts of blood dripping from its mouth in a Hoth-themed diorama cabinet. Best of all, there was even a realistic model of a skeletonized version of Luke Skywalker’s severed hand clutching his lightsaber hilt, which will probably give younger visitors nightmares. The organizers clearly were not afraid to highlight the more sinister elements of the vast Star Wars galaxy, and they certainly deserve to be commended for showcasing these more gruesome pieces.
After making their way to the end of the exhibition, visitors could buy various unique items from the gift shop, including an assortment of collectible badges that were not available anywhere else. All the gifts were reasonably priced, so your wallets would not have felt much lighter after leaving. There was also a room with an interactive virtual reality experience located towards the exit, and while you will have to pay for a slightly more expensive ticket to participate, it was certainly worth the increased price to be able to explore a virtual simulation of the incredible Star Wars galaxy, especially since the virtual reality experience was arguably one of the exhibition’s highlights.
Put simply, The Fans Strike Back is one of the most extensive Star Wars-themed exhibitions you could ever have dreamed of visiting, and fans cherished the opportunity to be able to observe so many unique items from the Star Wars franchise. There were so many pieces on display that many attendees needed to book multiple visits to the exhibition to fully absorb everything that it had to offer, and most fans probably never wanted to leave. Although the exhibition recently came to an end, fans will always be thankful for the opportunity they were offered to examine all the magnificent pieces of Star Wars merchandise which were on display. A version of the exhibit at the Santa Monica Art Museum in California is still running at the time of writing.
Needless to say, everyone who attended The Fans Strike Back will never forget the magnificent experience of touring the remarkable exhibition.