Thirteen-year-old Evan Yamaguchi of Aiea shows off just a few things from his "Star Wars" toy collection, part of which includes a digital photograph of himself in a full rebellion pilot flight suit, below.

Among the stars

13-year-old Evan Yamaguchi is named
Hawaii's Best "Star Wars" Collector
for his vast array of memorabilia

By Nancy Arcayna

May the force be with you ... always." The "force" is definitely with 13-year-old Evan Yamaguchi. Hasbro Inc. recently searched the galaxy to find the best young "Star Wars" collectors. Yamaguchi, who lives in Aiea, was selected as Hawaii's best collector.

"Jedi knights," ages 4 to 14, vied for both overall and state titles. Contest entries from across the nation were judged on criteria such as creativity of display, storage method used, breadth and size of collection, and answers on a questionnaire.

His prize is a set of 40 of Hasbro's 2003 3.75-inch basic figures, valued at $250, and a limited-edition Jorg Sacul fighter pilot figure ("Sacul" is "Lucas" spelled backward, and if you lift his helmet, he looks like "Star Wars" creator George Lucas). The figure will not be available at retail.

A seventh-grader at ASSETS School, Yamaguchi enjoys reading science-fiction books and collecting "Star Wars" memorabilia. But that doesn't mean he's always in fantasy land. He also enjoys playing soccer, shopping and hanging out with friends.

For some the 25-year-old phenomenon "Star Wars" is just a hobby. For others it's an obsession that some would deem nerdy, though "Star Wars" fanatics aren't all that different from sports fans who participate in fantasy leagues.

Digitized: Yamaguchi in a full Star Wars rebellion pilot flight suit.

The first "Star Wars" film was released in 1977 and continues to lure fans of all ages. Yamaguchi, born in 1989, says, "I just like it because it is cool."

He started his collection at age 9, saying that at first he liked "to use the figures to create my own plays." But once he realized the items were worth more in their original boxes, he decided to keep them intact.

He admits to having duplicates of many figures, in the event that he breaks down and opens a package.

"I'm missing the figures that came out before I was born," he says, "but I plan to get them."

The one he wants most is a Boba Fett action figure that costs about $2,000.

THE CASUAL observer would think he has just about everything. Fighter jets and spaceships hang from his bedroom ceiling. Bins overflow with more than 100 action figures. Play sets and collectibles line his shelves. And droids seem to be lurking in every corner.

At age 13, Evan Yamaguchi intends to hang on to his "Star Wars" collection, part of which includes an interactive robot of his favorite character, R2-D2, right.

Yamaguchi's dad Wallace good-naturedly foots the bill for most of the items. "If I see something that he doesn't have, I'll pick it up."

Neither of Evan's parents are collectors. "We can't afford it. We spend too much money on Star Wars," Wallace said.

Yamaguchi has determined that "Return of the Jedi" is his favorite film. He admits that he prefers reading the books, as opposed to watching movies, because "it expands your imagination." But it was the film's bizarre creatures and the fighting scenes that caught his eye.

Wallace feels collecting can be an investment. "Since he doesn't open the packages, 20 to 30 years down the line, it may be worth something."

But Evan has no plans to cash in his collection. A C-3P0 carrying case and an old-fashioned Darth Vader mask are among the rare items he owns.

The droid R2-D2 is one of his favorite characters, and an interactive R2-D2 robot is Yamaguchi's most prized possession because of its "personality."

"He dances, talks and definitely has attitude problems," he says.

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