Nerdery conquers Children's Museum 

I was an only child,” Indianapolis Star Wars fan Randy Barker says of his immense SW toy collection. “Christmas was very good to me.”

Very good indeed. Something tells me it would take a whole lot of Christmases to equal Barker’s truly epic-scale collection. He recently donated all 5,000 pieces (you read that right) to the Children’s Museum, which displayed only a small fraction at a special preview last week. Even so, it filled up several display cases, top to bottom. Museum officials say that it generally takes about a year to catalogue 600 pieces; Barker’s 5,000 could take a while (not to mention permissions from Lucasfilm).

And what a collection! As a longtime nerd myself, I won’t venture to speculate too much on the value of it all, but let’s just say I imagine Barker’s taxes will look pretty good this year. It’s like the wildest dreams of all children of the 1980s combined: virtually every playset, every starship, mugs, commemorative plates, clothes, life-size figurines, everything. Among the most notable elements, Barker has a complete collection of all Star Wars figures from the original 1977-1984 run — the sole missing piece is the ultra-rare Vlix from the Droids TV series, which rings in at about a $5,000 value. He’s got some rarities: the Early Bird Collection, Blue Snaggletooth, Obi-Wan Kenobi with original robes and built-in lightsaber — if you’re a true SW nerd, you’re thinking “ka-ching” just reading those words.

Until now, the collection was filling up — I mean this literally — two bedrooms in Barker’s house, floor to ceiling, to the point that he couldn’t even look at some of them without knocking over stacks of other stuff. So he donated the whole thing — everything but the Chewbacca shirt on his back and some Heroclix figures. Of course, the Children’s Museum seemed the perfect venue.

“I remember coming here as a kid, and I wanted other kids to be able to enjoy this collection,” Barker says. “The best part is watching the 2-year-olds go, ‘R2D2! R2D2!’ and thump into the glass as they’re trying to get a look,” he adds, as a couple of toddlers do just that.

In between Gen Con, the Super Hero Museum and now this collection, who would have expected Indianapolis to end up as nerd central? And yet here we are. Nerds rule!

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