Toy Story: Lindsay’s Simon Ward and son Theodore leave no stone unturned in quest for Star Wars memorabilia

By Geoff Coleman

From left to right: Chewbacca, Shaun 'Boo' Evans, Simon Ward. In front is Ward's son, Theodore. Photo: Sienna Frost.

The Hero’s Journey as a formula has almost been done to death by Hollywood screenwriters. It appears in films like Avatar, The Karate Kid, and anything starring Clint Eastwood. As you probably have already guessed, the hero is a regular guy who gets called to adventure, often meets a mentor, takes on a challenge, makes rivals and friends, suffers some ordeal, is rewarded, and returns with a victory or an object.

In The 40 Year Old Virgin, Steve Carrell has a massive collection of toys — and that’s where Lindsay’s Simon Ward can relate.

The former Strumbella’s front man and his son, Theodore, have a passion for collecting toys, and they recently completed a Star Wars series. This is not to say they have every single piece of Lego or every video game related to the iconic films, but as Ward explains, they do have a complete set.

“From 1977 to 1985, Star Wars creator George Lucas had a merchandising contract with Kenner toys. During that time 99 action figures were created, and we have all of them.”

So, with apologies to hugely successful screenwriters, here’s how an elevator pitch for this Toy Story could go…

Call to Adventure

Simon Ward never planned to spend a small fortune on toys, but, when his son expressed an interest in the figures he still had from his childhood, he saw it as a hobby they could undertake together. What began as an inventory of toys already in his possession became a six-month journey that included stops at garage sales and toy stores from Lindsay to Los Angeles. Hours spent in online auctions and combing Facebook groups verged on obsession, but his faith is rewarded, and his entire town could benefit…he just needs one more!

Meeting a mentor

Shaun “Boo” Evans is Yoda to Ward’s Luke Skywalker. He’s the older collector, well-versed in character back stories and obscure details of the Star Wars universe. The two have known each other for years since Evans was a friend of Ward’s older brother, but the shared interest in collecting cemented their relationship. Throughout the journey, Evans could be counted on to answer an obscure question, or alert Ward to a certain toy becoming available on the resale markets. (As long as he himself was not also looking for it.)

Simon Ward with his son, Theodore,. They were excited to build a Star Wars collection together. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Taking the plunge 

With a friend and son encouraging him, the musician committed to the chase. As Ward puts it, “There is no quit.”

“I’ve been like that my whole life: had to have the Air Jordan 11s when I was 16; had to have my sportscar. My kid wants a 1998 rare Pokémon Charizard? I’ll comb the streets of every major city in America until I find it. I’ve almost missed planes because of it. I just have this little itch inside me that isn’t satisfied until the collection is complete.”

Friends and Rivals 

It didn’t take long to find some friends who were also collectors. Kyle Hornshaw was another key part of the quest, boasting an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars films. Down to the dialogue. By character. And location. Even minor characters.

Rivalries were almost as easy to develop, but Ward says they are all friendly ones. “It’s like playing with a friend in basketball. You still love each other, but you want to win. It’s a human’s strange desire to be first. That being said, collectors do look out for each other.” (It’s not entirely clear if that is in a protective way, or the way Highlanders look out for each other.)

The Ordeal 

In all the Hollywood movies following this formula, the hero has an obstacle to overcome. Atticus Finch had a jury to win over in To Kill a Mockingbird. Indiana Jones had the snakes and a few hundred Nazis. Luke Skywalker was tempted by the dark side. (Kyle Hornshaw can tell you exactly when and where.) And Simon Ward’s white whale was the final action figure. He had 98 characters from Klaatu to Chief Chirpa to Ugnaught on the shelf. Only Warok, the eighth Ewok was missing.

Shaun “Boo” Evans (speaking of To Kill a Mockingbird) sent him a link to one selling for $500.

“I said, ‘No way! I’m not spending $500 on this Ewok. I won’t do it.’ Then for the next six months I lost every auction for him and couldn’t find one with all the accessories.” Six months later, Ward sheepishly bought the one Evans had sent after all.

The Hero is Rewarded, and Returns with A Victory

With the final piece in place, Ward now has the collection on display in his studio, sharing wall space with hundreds of other toys. But this is not where the story concludes.

The musician proposes an ending in which he finds a public space to display the collection so other Star Wars aficionados can enjoy them as well.

Anyone reading who can help should feel free to get in touch and assist in creating what he jokingly calls the cruelest kind of museum: a display area where people can see a complete collection of Star Wars action figures, but never, ever play with them.

1 Comment

  1. Angela Weiler says:

    Love, love, love this article because, as you know, I love Star Wars… but I also just taught Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to my 4Us lol. Best concept for an article ever… so clever!

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