TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - For more than 40 years, Chris Cooper has been collecting every inch of a galaxy far, far away.
From socks, brochures, figurines, pajamas, lunch boxes and just about anything under the sun, Cooper has stacked and displayed on shelves in his house.
“It’s anything and everything,” said Cooper.
To get started, he took out a $50,000 loan years ago, but what that money bought isn’t so clear.
“I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know what I bought. I know I bought a bunch of action figures,” Cooper said.
As a child, Cooper grew up on a farm in Iowa. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Star Wars was a way for his imagination to take him to the galaxy, so far away, that he now spends so much time collecting.
A farm boy, just like the main character, Luke in the movies, he escaped the farm to fight the galactic empire — staying up for hours playing Star Wars games.
“I was Luke, and actually it all got started with this card,” Cooper said as he pointed to his very first Luke Skywalker card he got in a loaf of Wonder Bread, which line the shelves behind the card.
Every piece of his collection is displayed immaculately, just like it it would in a store. Greg Mannino can hardly believe.
His collection is mainly made up of action figures, something tried and true to Mannino since he was a kid. In his hallway there’s a picture of Mannino and his sister, who wears her ballerina ensemble.
“My sister picked to wear her tutu and I picked my Han Solo action figure,” Mannino said.
Both collectors say they do it for the joy they get when they see the figurines or displays. The cost of either collection is unknown, but to the collectors, that is not the point.
“It’s all about the feeling of what it was like as a kid, and still being able to get that feeling,” Mannino said.
“I collect this collection because it brings back old memories,” Cooper said.
One memory Mannino will never forget is opening his Jedi Luke as a child and immediately losing the light saber. He said it is his dream action figure, coming in now, around a few hundred dollars. Casually placed on one of Cooper’s shelves is the very action figure Mannino has always wanted.
“I think I’m shaking,” Mannino said, holding it for a brief moment.
The reaction Mannino had to Cooper’s collection, and to that very action figure, is why he keeps everything dusted, placed and put to perfection. He’s just happy to help any other Star Wars fan escape to another galaxy.
“It’s been with me for 41 years and now it’s nice to share it with others,” Cooper said.
What is in his house, he said, is only part of the collection. The rest is in storage.