We like to explore. And
we both have an almost insatiable curiosity. So, when we saw the yellow building on Hobson Avenue Tuesday on our way downtown from Mid America Science Museum, decorated with at-ats, we both made a mental note to check out this place called Galaxy Connections.
Wednesday's rainy start provided a perfect excuse to squeeze a visit into our schedule. When we entered, the floor got my immediate attention. Turns out, owners John and Bridget Clower (who also own the pest control business in the back of the building) got the idea from visiting another comic book store. They
experimented and tried several things before this worked, but it makes a stunning entrance.
We were greeted and asked if we'd like to take the tour. We signed up. It's $10 for adults and $8 for kids. There was another tour ahead of us, so we waited a little while. Another family came in and joined us.
Galaxy Connections opened November 30th, 2013. It consists of John Clower's extensive Star Wars collection. Now, John may not be a superfan, but he's an adept collector with a good eye, and he's managed to put together quite a few great things to make this museum happen.
This map shows where people came from just over the course of a portion of 2014. While yes, there were a lot of people from Arkansas, there were visitors from the world over. Our tour guide, Richard, told us about a young man from Russia who got excited about Jabba the Hutt, since Jabba apparently
means "big fat frog" in Russian.
Inside the tour, we first encountered a Stormtrooper -- or rather, a Stormtrooper costume. Richard shared with us how it was made, what it was for, and how today's 501st wouldn't consider it more than a low-quality version of their high-end recreation costumes. He also shared with us schematics for the sets for the original Star Wars (or, as we know it today, Star Wars IV: A New Hope).
This room also contained a control panel, which interested Hunter more than anything else. I suppose having control over whether to destroy whole planets at her fingertips made the child a bit giddy. That's my girl, I guess.
Richard also showed us an original costume for Darth Vader. It was a bit shorter than we expected. We had a conversation about David Prowse, the guy in the Vader costume in the movies... and how his voice was dubbed over afterwards by James Earl Jones. Wonder why? Check out this video clip before the dubbing.
In the next room, Han Solo's still ensconced in carbonite. Or, there's a version of the famed visage from the end of Empire Strikes Back and the beginning of Return of the Jedi that's been cast from the original mold, along with a perfect model of a Jawa and a rather imposing costume of Boba Fett.
And, of course, there's Yoda. This Yoda's not a puppet. He's actually one of the remaining Pepsi promotional display Yodas that went out to stores as part of a contest. He fared a lot better than the rest.
The last room of the exhibit is the largest. It's an entire room full of memorabilia, including a huge case with all the different original trilogy Star Wars toys. We learned how George Lucas struggled to have action figures created, and how the fledgling Kenner came forward and
started the process. There's a certificate on display from that one Christmas when the toy set wasn't ready, so many kids woke up and found that certificate rather than a complete action figure set under the tree.
And there's the X-Wing... which a fan in Memphis actually built for his child's birthday party. This provides a great photo-op for kids. While Hunter had been reluctant to pose with any of the costumes or figures throughout the rest of the exhibit, she had to get in on this.
Richard made the tour a lot of fun, answering all sorts of questions and making sure everyone got the photos they wanted to take. But this was the best. At the end, he lets families dress up in Jedi, paduwan or fledgling robes and "battle" with light sabers. You can
really tell he loves his job.
You wouldn't expect to find something like Galaxy Connection in Hot Springs, with no obvious ties to Hollywood or George Lucas. But it's a great stop, especially if you have a fan in the family.
906 Hobson Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71913