In light of Poe’s recent and good article in Toyfare on Star Wars licensed products, today I’m sharing my strangest Star Wars item, my Yard Yoda. When I bought my first home in 2004 I faced what would be generously described as a fixer-upper. Dr. Mrs. Bigbo’s contractor uncle was going to help us repair a home that had been nearly wrecked by an insane woman. She let trees grow into windows and into the house, had apparently a deep and abiding love of field mice and let them run wild inside, and painted a maniacally-cheerful and third-grade quality blue sky, clouds, and happy-face sun theme on a bedroom ceiling.
She didn’t have kids.
But my uncle-in-law’s tragic death in a motorcycle accident almost immediately thereafter left us very much by ourselves in reconstructing the home. In cleaning up the yard (we’ve loaded three dumpsters to date with crap left over from that nutbag; she drove home to Mississippi after the closing with the back of her Chevy Blazer filled with sawdust and a dozen chickens, ducks, and a goose), I came across this old Yoda hand puppet buried under years of mulch. He must have belonged to a kid of the original owner of the house. However he got there, he’s been a good-luck charm ever since. After all, we have managed to fix up the house.
I am a huge Star Wars fan, and coming across the weathered old Yoda immediately made me feel comfortable. He was a little slice of my childhood amidst a maelstrom of stress, and I was instantly put smilingly at ease. As a kid one of my best buddies had that same Yoda hand puppet, and we considered it something of a mascot for all of us. As a teenager we taped my recently-shorn rat’s tail to Yoda, to give him a new sense of style. Really bad 90’s style, but whatever. I don’t think anyone went to one of his parties without giving their impression of Yoda with their arm shoved up him, saying something awful like “Boobs, look at them we will.”
My Yard Yoda has popped up at least once a year, and treated me a lot like he did Luke in ESB. Sometimes it has been for auspicious reasons, like when I found him last year shortly after learning my wife was pregnant. Sometimes he shows up to teach me a lesson, like when I found him next to Dr. Mrs. Bigbo’s garden filled with a wasp’s nest. That lesson was never to reach into a hand puppet you find in the yard without looking inside first. Alright, I admit sometimes the lessons might be a bit of a stretch. Every time I find him I clean him up and smile, marveling how well his paint has held up to years of New England weather, and put him somewhere “safe” , but he inevitably disappears back into the yard not to be seen for months, or even a year. I’ve never tossed him off the porch or knowingly hid him; he just disappears. I’ve never brought him into the house, because no matter how much I clean him up he’s still stinky and grimy. And my wife would probably throw him away. Besides, I have grown to like our indoor-outdoor relationship the way it is. That is with Yard Yoda, not my wife. She’s strictly indoors.
I think that feeling of calming nostalgia he gives me was what spurred me to toy collecting in the first place. I loved action figures well into middle school, after most of my friends had given up on it, but gave up toys by the eighth grade. As an adult in love with nostalgia, I really appreciate some of the relaunched lines of the last few years, like MOTUC, G.I. Joe 25th, NECA TMNT, and a couple others, as well as some vintage MOC stuff. Yard Yoda brought me into this hobby, so I feel I owe him. Here he gets his fifteen minutes of fame!