exhibition at Leicester museum pricked my attention, and was also a great way to catch up with two Star Wars fans and small child at the same time.
Rather than trying (and inevitably failing) to write a polished review, this is going to be the first of my “Explaining it in a pub” reviews. Essentially, the near stream of consciousness I'd give if you asked me “How was that place you went to? Worth it?”
I then had a growing feeling that the exhibition looked to have a lot of very samey content… Ok, it's about Star Wars toys, so lots of toys are to be expected, but as we followed the wall cabinets, with dips into the central cabinets, displays started to feel repetitive. Action figures in the wall mounted cabinets were all set up in the same format, line after line of them, cabinet after cabinet, like natural history insects pinned to cards.
The central cabinets had lovely touches, some with figures set up as if in battle, but did often necessitate hoisting the youngling up as the cabinet shelves were a bit high.
Impressively there were a few play sets our avid fans hadn't seen before, or even heard of, so it ticked their nerdy boxes.
Each cabinet of action figures made an interesting point in the short accompanying panel. For example about counterfeit figures, or the different prices mint or damaged figures go for. It felt as though a trick was missed here, as panels often ask a question like “Can you spot the differences?” which is something I'd expect to be echoed in a child friendly (often separate way) so that kids can instantly latch onto and engage with the key point for that cabinet.
Plus point though, the panels were short, easy to read, and not jargon heavy, all good ideas where you're expecting both know it all fans and casual interest visitors.
We hit the back half of the exhibition, where things took an unexpected turn… Movie posters! This had some genuinely interesting content, a poster where Princess Leia was the central figure, Josh Kirby artwork… But as we'd not been aware of the posters before seeing them in the Exhibition (I see now they are mentioned in the promotional text) it felt like the toy exhibition had run out of toys, and the posters were a filler.
It was a shame they hadn't received more focus in the promotion for the exhibition, as their presence lifts the exhibition from “Bring the kids! Summer holidays! Star Wars toys!” to something which ticks more boxes for more fans.
May The Toys Be With You has an astonishing amount of content, and some surprising factoids I will gladly pull out in future pub conversations, yet feels like it was rapidly put together, or kept very simple, for reasons unclear to us, which gradually left us disinterested in engaging with all of the content presented.
Worth visiting, but be prepared to put in the effort squinting at figures.