Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Laserdiscs and other discoveries

The last two days I have spent painting, tidying up, making up new furniture and generally having a rather late spring clean. I just felt the need to declutter as I amass so much junk and am often so loath to get rid of anything. I've made some interesting discoveries along the way and found things that were half-forgotten. Probably the best find was my small collection of Laserdiscs, which date back to the late 1990s/early 2000s. I remember Derek selling me the idea of Laserdiscs at the time - I'd often walked past the huge racks of them in HMV, wondering what they were all about. Looking back they're rather impractical things - I think I can best describe them as over-sized CDs, about the size of a dinner plate. They of course were superseded by their much smaller and more versatile cousins, the DVD.

My favourite set of the collection is the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition discs. I think these cost be about £40-50 at the time. I would rather have had the original Laserdisc release although that came long before I had any inkling what such a thing was. That as it was, I still remember first watching the Star Wars films on the Laserdisc player, which I still have a - a rather nice Pioneer one - and being amazed by the quality of the picture and sound. Laserdisc, like DVD, were a step change from VHS in terms of quality. I seem to recall that my player could play both sides of the disc, where the film was so encoded, which saved having to get up and change discs, which was the case on some cheaper players. Even so, each of the Star Wars films came on two discs, while Jedi was on three! I guess this was the downfall of Laserdisc - its not very practical to have to get up midway through a film to change discs over and rather spoils the fun of lounging in a comfy chair, while the film plays through. Admittedly, some DVD films are over more than one disc, but in most cases, DVD's can easily fit a film and its extras on just one. Plus their other problem was size. They do take up a lot of room, even though they're not as fat as VHS, so not very practical for easy storage.

All this talk of Laserdiscs has tempted me to get my old player out, dust if off and have a look through some of the films I kept. I had probably about 30-40 at one time but sold most of them to a guy at work who was mad keen on the format although by then I think they were becoming obsolete as DVD arrived.

As well as my Laserdisc finds, I've been going through masses of Star Wars stuff, a lot of it complete rubbish that for some reason I have kept until now. For example, why have I kept all those Pepsi cans from the Episode I tie-in? They're of no practical use now and I believe from reading an article in Star Wars Magazine, of very little value. So anyway they've been thrown out. Happy to say though that I found a lot of my old Star Wars fan club stuff and Aliens Fan Club magazines and correspondence between me and the Club's President, who was a good friend at the time helping me out considerably with a web site, adverts and banners for my fledgling Star Wars fanzine. I even found a ticket to the Aliens Convention at the Shepperton Moat House in October 1999!

I've been collecting together the various articles and paper, mainly newspaper interviews and features that I kept around the releases of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. They're now much better organised in a folder as is some of my older Star Wars paper and advertising bits and pieces. I am amazed at just how much I have collected and purchased over the years. One day, if the opportunity ever arises, I would like to get to cataloguing my complete collection, to have some idea of just exactly how much I've got. Often, as today its a case of organising things from one storage crate to another, without really keeping a track of what's there. I think it would be lovely to share some of the things I've collected with my friends and fellow Star Wars fans. After all what's the point of a collection if nobody is going to see it?

Anyhows, off to sort out my laserdisc player now!


Derek said...

Wow, that was a fantastic post! :) great fun to read. Yep, that time period of the late '90s Laserdisc collecting was fun. The first time I saw a Laser was around 1983 at Wolsey&Wolsey record shop in Great Yarmouth. It was "Star Trek- The Motion Picture" selling for lot of cash! was intrigued...I thought it was a record album!! :) I have a tv advert for laserdiscs recorded with the first TV screening of of "Star Wars" (ITV, October 1982) which is fun to watch! The kid is amazed as this disc flies in through his bedroom window like a UFO! I still have a number of lasers here...you sleep next to them when you visit!! My fave laser is "Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Collectors Edition". The 1998 release was really well done (and is now available on DVD - same extras etc).
As for SW junk...my parents house is full of it and it needs organising as well! One day we can go through it together.

Carla said...

I wish you could persuade Derek to get rid of all these effing Pringles cans!!

Derek said...

...what did you say, woman?! Get rid of fantastic Star Wars Pringles cans?! (adopts 'Max and Paddy' voice & look of indignation) "How DAR you!!" ;)