SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Forty years ago, I found my 7-year-old self in a movie theater watching one of the most significant films of my life. I didn't know it at the time, but within a few weeks my father would be admitted into LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. He would be the first person in Utah to be diagnosed with AIDS. In 1983, AIDS was a death sentence.
“Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” became a refuge. Star Wars was always incredibly important to me. I loved and identified with Luke Skywalker. I didn’t know that, like Luke, I would spend part of my life searching for my father. My father is gay. In the 1980s and 1990s he might as well have been Darth Vader. I only ever knew the good in him. Like Luke, I clung to that belief.
I still cling to that belief. And I still cling to Star Wars.
It’s hard when something you love is entwined with trauma. I hope your memories of “Return of the Jedi” are more celebratory. I’ve come to love my younger self. Dressed in the Luke Skywalker outfit that his mother made him, Little Ryan stood triumphant in the wake of death.
May the Force be with you, always.
On a lighter note, there's been a wonderful amount of new collectables that have and will be released this year. Here's a look at some of what is new or coming soon.
Funko Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Pop! Collection
Pictured: Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine (Hot Topic Exclusive), Luke Glow-in-the-Dark (Entertainment Earth Exclusive), Darth Vader
Loungefly Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Collection
Pictured: Jabba’s Palace Mini Backpack, Jabba’s Palace Zip Around Wallet, Return of the Jedi Mini Final Frames Backpack, Return of the Jedi Final Frames Zip Around Wallet, Death Star Figural Crossbody Bag, Han Solo in Carbonite Mini Backpack, Darth Vader Figural Helmet Crossbody Bag
Loungefly Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Collection Keychains
Pictured: Darth Vade, World Premiere Ticket Lenticular, Wicket W. Warrick Keychain
Funko Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Pop! Collection
Pictured: Princess Leia, Wicket, Brethupp (GameStop Exclusive), C-3PO, Luke Skywalker, Jabba the Hut & Salacious B. Crumb Pop! Moment, Max Rebo, Princess Leia as Boushh, Jabba's Skiff - Luke (Target Exclusive), Jabba's Skiff - Chewie (Target Exclusive)
Star Wars: The Vintage Collection
These figures feature premium detail and design across product and packaging inspired by the original Kenner line, as well as the entertainment-inspired collector grade deco. Includes 4 figures and 5 entertainment-inspired accessories.
Pictured: Jabba's Court Denizens, Wicket & Kneesaa, Nien Nunb
Star Wars The Vintage Collection Endor Bunker
Located at an Imperial outpost on Endor’s forest moon, the Endor Bunker housed the shield generator for the Empire’s second Death Star. To breach its walls, the Rebels devised a plan.
Star Wars The Vintage Collection AT-ST & Chewbacca
While not as imposing as its larger AT-AT walker cousin, the AT-ST was a significant addition to the Imperial side of battlefields in the Galactic Civil War. In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Chewbacca and two Ewoks swung from a vine onto an AT-ST, commandeering the vehicle and turning the Empire’s weapon against them.
Star Wars: The Black Series
Kids and collectors alike can imagine the biggest battles and missions in the Star Wars saga with figures from Star Wars The Black Series! With exquisite features and decoration, this series embodies the quality and realism that Star Wars devotees love. Star Wars The Black Series includes figures, vehicles, and roleplay items from the 40-plus-year legacy of the Star Wars Galaxy.
Pictured: Force Ghosts 3-Pack, Jabba the Hutt & Salacious B. Crumb, Artoo-Detto (R2D2), Wicket, Boba Fett, Gamorrean Guard, Stormtooper, Paploo, Emperor Palpatine, Chewbacca, Bib Fortuna
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Zip Hoodie For Adults
A replica of a ticket to the movie is featured in a clear vinyl case on the front. The back of this sweatshirt features character artwork and the anniversary logo while the fleece fabrication will definitely keep you on the warm side.
Herschel x Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Collection
Pictured: Backpack, Baseball Cap, and Belt Bag
shopDisney Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Shirts
Pictured: Ewoks Fashion Top for Girls, Princess Leia and Wicket T-Shirt for Women, Long Sleeve Top for Adults, and Kids Ringer Tee
Boba Fett Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Pin – Limited Release
Limited Release cloisonné pin-on-pin design featuring Mandalorian bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Han Solo in Carbonite Sliding Pin
Sliding layers on this pin reveal Han Solo, frozen in carbonite. Slide the mechanism back over, and he’s unfrozen. Princess Leia™, disguised as Boushh™, stands guard, ready to assist. It’s the perfect item for displaying your favorite fandom and keeping a galaxy of favorite memories close.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary International Posters Mystery Pin
These pins feature movie posters of the Return of the Jedi in various languages. Two pins display Japanese characters in Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana. Other languages represented include Polish, Hungarian, and German
R2-D2 Remote Control Interactive Droid with Serving Tray
This R2-D2 remote control interactive droid lets you relive the time R2-D2 helped rescue Han Solo while trapped by Jabba the Hutt. Attach the service arm and tray to R2-D2 and use the remote control to help him serve drinks just like he did aboard the sail barge. Inspired by Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, this highly detailed, large scale figure features lights and sound effects, removable door and panels, cups and a personality chip port.
shopDisney Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Collectables
Pictured: Wicket Ewok Cuddleez 25" Plush, Ewok Ear Headband for Adults, Ewok Bow and Arrow Set, and Ewok Horn
LEGO x Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary
Pictured: Endor Speeder Chase Diorama, Emperor's Throne Room Diorama, and BrickHeadz Battle of Endor Heroes
Scentsy x Star Wars
Pictured: Darth Vader Warmer, Ewok Scentsy Buddy, and Boba Fett Warmer
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Collector's Classic Board Book
With art from comics legend Al Williamson, gatefolds, and a cinematic feel, this collector’s board book is the perfect gift no matter your generation, for both lifelong Star Wars fans and the littlest Padawans.
Regal Robot x Star Wars Art & Decor
Pictured: Rancor Towel Ring, and Han Solo Carbonite Coffee Table
Gentle Giant x Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Collection
Pictured: Darth Vader with Removable Helmet Jumbo 12” Figure, Han Solo (Endor) 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust, and Admiral Ackbar Milestones Statue
Fossil x Star Wars Collection
Pictured: R2-D2 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch, Special Edition Darth Vader Three-Hand Black Silicone Watch, Star Wars Charm Bracelet, and Endor Leia Leather watch
Girl's Crew x Star Wars The Return of the Jedi Collection
Pictured: Rebellion Stud Set, Empire Stud Set, and Jabba the Hutt and Salacious B. Crumb Studs
Enso Rings x Star Wars Collection
Pictured: Wicket Dualtone Ring, Forest of Endor Wide Ring, and Jabba's Palace Wide Ring
RSVLT x Star Wars
Pictured: Trilogy's End Koozie, Trilogy's End Shirt, Revenge of the Jedi Shirt, Ewok Warriors Shirts, It's a Trap Hybrid Shorts, and Jabba's Palace Pals Hybrid Shorts
Our Universe x Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Collection
Pictured: Bomber Jacket, and Athletic Jersey
Stance Jedi Box Set
40 years ago Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi hit screens across the galaxy and science fiction fandom was never the same. Stance is paying tribute to all things Episode VI with its latest collection of Return of the Jedi styles. Inspired by the original movie poster artwork these new sock styles come in Stance's popular midweight poly cotton construction. This special limited edition Jedi Box Set includes all 3 movie poster sock styles and comes packaged inside a metal tin lunchbox complete with thermos featuring Wicket himself, just like back in 1983.