Before the release of Star Wars Battlefront, there was a commercial that showed a man playing with an R2D2 figurine and remembering all the fun times he had play with his friend and a bunch of Star Wars toys. A lot of us were that kid, able to take a flashlight and imagine it was a lightsaber long before we got our first extending lightsaber that made noises when you hit something. It was great.
However, if you remained that kid, you started to find that the more mainstream Star Wars things couldn’t give you what you needed. Thankfully, the world of Star Wars caters heavily to the obsessives, the detail finders, the fans of minor characters like Wedge Antilles or Boba Fett. But no character is more of an exemplar of the reach and breadth of Star Wars and its merch than the legendary Jek Tono Porkins.
For those who don’t remember him, Porkins is in about 30 seconds of A New Hope. He helps cover another pilot and is shortly thereafter killed. That’s really it. He doesn’t even accomplish anything with his death. He’s just a bit character of little significance. Except he’s not, he’s a Star Wars character.
Today is actually mind-bogglingly easy to find all things Jek Porkins. There are Porkins Pop Vinyl figures, Porkins LEGO minifigures, Jek Porkins action figures and a Porkins card in the Star Wars X-Wing Game. Need Star Wars shirts with Porkins on them? They exists, too.
Who would want any of these? Obsessive Star Wars fans like me that spend $80 dollars in the LEGO Store to get a Darth Revan figure or who keep demanding to see Dash Rendar in the Disney canon. Jek Porkins isn’t just a character as much as he’s a symbol of how deep the Star Wars well goes and how willing the fans are to embrace that depth,
Strangely, I think is actually a sign of a fairly vibrant fandom merchandise landscape. That isn’t to say all of Star Wars is so healthy, but it’s beautiful to me that as diehards we’ll sing the song of Jek Porkins with our bodies and our shelves. We’ll buy ice cream makers to recreate the Willrow Hood’s run from Cloud City. We’ll take an April Fool’s joke too far and demand to sleep in a bag made to look like a tauntaun.
None of these things take advantage of an ever loving fan base because they’re things meant to please those who have been absorbing the films for the longest. They’re extensions of the goofy, serious, sad, touching and funny world that’s entranced us. They come from the characters, the deep cuts like Porkins or Hood. They remind of us the joy that we had watching for the first, fifth or 50th time all at once and help us remember that the 50th viewing can be just as special.