Although the anniversary of the first movie in popular science fiction series, Star Wars – A New Hope – falls on May 25 the informal commemorative holiday falls on today, May 4.

It has no single point of origin, but both the day and the phrase ‘May the 4th Be With You’ was first tossed around in about 1978 a year after the first movie was released.

A grassroots phenomenon, Star Wars Day has transcended the original pun that inspired it.

Fans often choose the day to hold themed parties or host community events, others simply use it as a time to revisit the films.

Yass resident and Star Wars enthusiast Greg Tomes (pictured) is an avid collector of Star Wars memorabilia, among other franchises, and owns an online store called Oz Action Figures.

When A New Hope was released in 1977, at just 10-years-old Greg remembers badgering his mum to take him to the local cinema in Wollongong where he grew up to see it.

“Then I went and saw it and it was just the best thing I’d ever seen.”

Although Greg said most 10-year-olds haven’t generally seen much besides children’s movies, Star Wars was still new and different.

“To go and see that it was just something completely different, and I just latched on to it from there.”

Like many fans who grew up with the series, Star Wars evolved over time becoming darker and edgier.

Greg didn’t hesitate when asked about his favourite movie in the franchise – Empire Strikes Back – crediting its place in the top spot to a gloomier less family-friendly storyline where the villain returns and the heroes struggle to triumph.

“George Lucas was just a master at running the whole thing and keeping up the momentum,” he said. “Even the way he worked up to the prequels as well with the re-releasing of the special editions of all of the original trilogy.”

As a kid, every other neighbourhood kid on the street where Greg grew up was a Star Wars fan.

“It was massive back in those days and considering there wasn’t a lot of merchandise around, like there is now, every second kid was wearing a Yoda shirt or a Chewbacca shirt.”

“You could buy the toys everywhere. I remember going into a chemist with my mum and they had Star Wars figures in a chemist,” Greg said with a laugh. “I thought – that’s just how big this thing’s got.”

Greg said the fact that you never see a movie these days where it’ll be at the cinemas for a whole year like A New Hope shows what a massive impact the Star Wars franchise made. In particular, he remembers the film playing at a cinema in Wollongong a couple times a week throughout 1977.

Nowadays, when a new movie or TV series is released Greg and his family watch it together often at popular midnight sessions.

The 55-year-old, who now works in the IT industry, runs his online collectibles eBay shop out of his home. It was originally born of a record shop that Greg used to run in Wollongong.

“I had a wholesale account with a couple of places, and I’d buy my collection by the box,” he said.

“I took out what I wanted and then sell the rest in the shop, and it just escalated from there.” Greg soon began operating a stall at conventions and now turns over a $10,000 profit each quarter.

Although the case filled with popular 12-inch figures are relatively new, which retail for between $300 to $400 (pictured behind Greg), he also still owns his original figures from when he was younger in the 70s and 80s.

After a boom in customers throughout COVID-19 lockdowns business is largely back to normal and Greg is selling everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and DC Comics figures to Star Wars and horror movie figurines.

Of his personal collection, Greg said his favourite piece is an impressive Jabba the Hutt figure, which is to scale with his assortment of 12-inch figures making Jabba nearly one metre long.

You can check out Greg’s online shop – Oz Action Figures by searching for the store name on eBay or contacting him at gtomes@vtown.com.au or 0402 780 823.

Brianna O’Rourke