'Star Wars' Celebration Takes Over Toys 'R' Us in NYC's Times Square

NEW YORK - A few hours ago, at a toy store not so far away, Space.com sent one of its reporters to eat Wookie cookies, attend "Light Saber Academy," and meet the owner of the world's largest "Star Wars" memorabilia collection, in a daylong countdown to "Force Friday."  

Tomorrow (Sept. 4), is "Force Friday": Also known as the day Hasbro and Disney will reveal a new line of "Star Wars" toys, inspired by the new movie, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," set to be released on Dec. 18. The toys will be available at the Toys 'R' Us in Times Square at 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT), but leading up to the big reveal, the store has an entire day of "Star Wars" activies planned. Space.com reporter Calla Cofield went into the field to capture the action. Some amazing Star Wars LEGO sculptures welcomed visitors upon arrival: 

Where are those droids we're looking for?

Maybe this guy can find them?

From Calla: "Star Wars and sci-fi artist Jeff Carlisle teaching the kids how to use simple shapes to make Star Wars characters. They did Yoda, TIE Fighters, the Millennium Falcon, Vader and R2D2."

Shh! In session, this Star Wars class is. Younglings are learning to use the Force.

From Calla: "Steve Sansweet curated a 'Star Wars' vintage toy display that's spread throughout the store. It features this hysterical line of action figures where all the guys are shaped like He-Man and Leia is cross eyed. Read the paragraph that goes with it." 

We don't remember Mark Hamill being this bulked up for the movies.

"Chewie, we're home. And our shoulders are HUGE."

This is the van we're looking for!

Steve Sansweet was on hand to sign copies of his new book, "Star Wars: The Ultimate Collectors Guide."  Sansweet is president and CEO of the non-profit Rancho Obi-Wan, which is based around his massive "Star Wars" toy collection (over 300,000 pieces!). Sansweet says he's most excited about the technology that will appear in the new generation of "Star Wars" toys. He referenced, as an example, the incredible little BB-8 robot, designed by the Sphero toy company.

"I think this is going to be a breakthrough kind of merchandising event and breakthrough for the new movies. We're really going to see the technology being integral to what the toy does," Sansweet said. 

In the vintage toy displays that Sansweet curated, there are some awesome examples of bygone technology in "Star Wars" toys. For example, a "Movie Cassette Color Show" toy from the 1970's let the user run short movies through a sort of plastic film-based movie camera. But Sansweet said the film would get scratched with every viewing. 

Some of the items in Sansweet's collection are extremely rare and valuable, but he emphasized that a collector shouldn't get into the game hoping the items will eventually become valuable. He says he plays with all the toys he buys, and will buy a second one if he thinks he'd like to keep one in good condition. 

"You need to find what you love," he said. 

Stay tuned for more amazing photos from the midnight toy reveal at the Toys 'R' Us here in Times Square!

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Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.