Labor of Love: Restoring Vintage Kenner Millennium Falcon

"She may not look like much but she's got it where it counts."

Captain Solo was right. My original Vintage Millennium Falcon vehicle by Kenner lies battered and beaten, a shell of her former self, but to us she is among the most valuable Star Wars toys in my entire Star Wars toy collection. The pricelessness comes from the many, many memories I have of playing with the Millennium Falcon as a child.

This particular Millennium Falcon came to me in the summer of 1980. After lots of begging my parents, and a well-timed garage sale that gave us some extra spending money, we made the long-awaited trip to Jordan's, which at the time was the mecca for Star Wars toy collectors (kids, mostly, back then) because of its large section devoted to Star Wars toys.

While most of the kids in our neighborhood had X-Wings, TIE fighters and landspeeders, I was among the first to come home with the Mona Lisa of Star Wars vehicles - the hero ship among hero ships - the Millennium Falcon.

From the moment she emerged from her Empire Strikes Back box and got her stickers and removable parts in place, my Millennium Falcon was the star of the show for a neighborhood of kids who played Star Wars morning, noon and night. She flew from house to house. She saved rebels and attacked Imperials. She survived wars, rainstorms and sandboxes. She suffered falls, bumps and scrapes. She endured cracks to her hull and sun-induced discoloration even as her more movable parts (entry hatch, clear plastic hatch cover and chess table) disappeared one at a time.

After several years of rough play, she earned a spot on a shelf, later a place in safe storage, retired from service but never from our imaginations.

Today she is once again proudly on display and, in a project that continues to be a source of pride, she is being restored one piece at a time. First, it was the top gun, which was discovered in storage and placed back atop her superstructure.

Most recently, through the miracle of eBay auctions, I acquired an original chess table that once again graces her internal compartment. The work continues. It will never be a total restoration. Some of the damaged pieces have too much history. I could never justify parting with them. They are mute testimony to a happy childhood. No, this Millennium Falcon will never again be mint. Her value lies entirely in the well-worn condition in which we find her today.

I've also obtained the Jedi training ball and arm that attaches to the landing gear housing and it is now back in its rightful place, waiting for Luke to put the blinders on and learn the ways of the Force from Obi-Wan Kenobi as Han sits back and muses about "mystical energy fields."

There are other Millennium Falcons in the Star Wars Toy Museum collection, and in those cases mint condition is the goal. No missing parts. No dust or damage. But for this Falcon - our first Millennium Falcon - the past becomes priceless. Of all our Star Wars toys, she stands above all other toys as proof that Star Wars collecting is a passion and a labor of love.

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