The Friday Five: Tom Berges - Toy Tales

The Friday Five: Tom Berges

Do you remember the feeling you had as a kid as the opening crawl to Star Wars rolled up the screen? Regardless of which movie introduced you to the franchise, you probably have a fond memory or two of those movies and the characters who took hold of the collective psyche of many nations. Tom Berges sure remembers that feeling. His years growing up watching the movies and playing with Star Wars merchandise led to his creating and curating the website igrewupstarwars.com. The website features photos from people submitted to Tom from all over the world. Like Tom, they grew up Star Wars too. If you’ve visited the website, you know how fun and addictive it is. If you’re new to it, be prepared to lose some time.

What inspired you to create an online community based on other people’s personal Star Wars photos?

About 10 years ago I was looking through my dad’s old photo albums. I noticed a lot of the photos included a piece of Star Wars merchandise; somebody was wearing a Star Wars shirt or there would be me playing with action figures at home or while camping with my parents as a child. I thought, “it can’t be just me” whose childhood had a heavy Star Wars presence. I created the I Grew Up Star Wars website and the rest is history.

The Friday Five

People can submit their own Star Wars photos to have published on the website. How many photos do you think you’ve received to date? Do you accept all photo submissions?

I’ve received well over 1000 photos. It’s incredible. I have so many more to post and they just keep coming in. I have plans to publish all of them. It just takes time. The only photo I had second thoughts about posting was of me playing with action figures in the bathtub. I don’t want to post anything inappropriate. After considerable thought I posted it. There was nothing shady about the photo and a lot of kids had that same experience.

The Friday Five

Rate the Star Wars movies from your least to most favourite  and provide your reasoning.

Episode IV: A New Hope – It was the genesis of the whole phenomenon. When Star Wars hit the theatres, so many things changed: there were suddenly lines around the block to get into the movie, cereal was being branded with movie characters, kids were buying the Star Wars books, the movie soundtrack was a bestseller. That movie changed movie marketing and merchandise licensing.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – It had so many fantastic cliffhangers: what will happen to the carbonite-frozen Han Solo in the hands of Jabba the Hutt , how does Luke deal with losing his hand and discovering Darth Vader is his father , and where does the Dark Side go now that the Death Star has been destroyed? It was a great movie.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – This is the last movie from the trilogy so it is important. It delivers many of the answers to the questions we walked away with from The Empire Strikes Back.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens – This movie attempted to get back some of the glory that was lost with the second trilogy. It has many of the same elements of the first trilogy and for many people it restored their faith in the franchise.  

I’m not really a fan of Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, and Phantom Menace. They all rate pretty low for me.

The Friday Five

What is one of your own favourite Star Wars memories?

When he was 8 years old, I was playing with Star Wars action figures with a kid from my street. I didn’t know him very well. He got called in for the day and while he was putting away his figures, I pocketed his Chewbacca. I didn’t have it yet. Later that night I was playing with my action figures in the tub when my dad and this kid’s father walked in to see if I had it. I handed it over, obviously. Not one of my proudest moments but definitely a memory that sticks with me.

The Friday Five

Why do you think Star Wars continues to have such a stronghold on audiences?

It’s a great story! The franchise has continued to take advantage of timing as far as releasing the second trilogy to a new generation of movie-goers. It was a nostalgic time for parents who grew up with the first trilogy. It’s the classic story of good vs. evil.

The Friday Five

What’s next for igrewupstarwars.com?

More of the same! I’ve met great people doing what I do. I’m having a great time so as long as that continues, I’m happy.

The Friday Five

Visit the I Grew Up Star Wars website. You can also join the I Grew Up Star Wars group on Facebook.

Tom Berges can be found on Twitter and as a contributor to the Galaxy of Toys podcast.

Look into the minds of movers and shakers in the play industry – five questions, one fascinating person.