I couldn’t read, but I knew which slot belonged to Greedo, which one was for Dengar, which one was for Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Lando Calrissian. Put all my Star Wars guys in a big pile, and my parents say I could without fail correctly put them back into the slot stickered with their name in my Darth Vader Collector’s Case.
I suppose it was simple memorization, but at a very young age this revealed two character traits I’d carry in life: meticulous organization of my stuff (I’m one of those people who alphabetized and organized their CD racks by artist name and genre; I do the same with DVDs), as well as a soft spot for all things Star Wars, one still going strong despite the steady stream of piss George Lucas has gleefully whizzed over the years into the collective faces of the billions who made him gazillions. (We’ll see whether the sale to Disney is a life preserver for the flagging franchise, or one last kick in the balls from George on his way out the door.)
There are 31 slots in that old Darth Vader case; there are 822 in the “Action Figures” case on display at Singapore Philatelic Museum, all of them filled with action figures, each labeled with the character’s name, all grouped by the series in which they were released — fantastic.
On loan from a private collector, this impressive stockpile of action figures is the key highlight of Light vs Dark: Stamps and Collectibles, a modest but worthwhile exhibition running through June 30 at Singapore’s quiet stamps museum, housed in a beautiful, century-old colonial building near Fort Canning Park. Ostensibly created to lure Star Wars geeks into a place they may not otherwise visit and, once they’re there, to tempt them into purchasing one of the S$89.90 sets of Star Wars stamp portfolios, Light vs. Dark also features a (very) small assortment of Star Wars memorabilia, large character figurines, vehicles, and a Lego display depicting the Emperor’s memorable arrival on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
I mean it when I say this is a modest exhibition. All of the action figures and collectibles are fairly new, and I was disappointed that there wasn’t a single original figure among the 800+ on display; I assume the collector has some, but was understandably loathe to commit the heresy of taking them out of the packaging. Plan to spend 30 minutes tops nerding out with the Star Wars stuff, and afterwards you can brush up on your stamps history in the museum’s handful of exhibition halls; of particular interest are the collections of old stamps, dating back to the 1800s, in the Room of Rarities.
My mom still has the Darth Vader (and C-3PO) collector’s cases somewhere in a box in the basement, and if I’m lucky at least a few of my old guys are still in there, waiting to be organized for the first time in nearly 30 years. Yep, on my next trip to Detroit, I think I owe it to myself to put Greedo in the Greedo slot and Dengar in the Dengar slot again.
Singapore Philatelic Museum is located at 23-B Coleman Street, a short walk from the Bras Basah, Clarke Quay, and City Hall MRT stations. It’s open on Monday from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., and Tuesday – Sunday from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. +65 6337 3888. Admission S$6.