Merchandising, Merchandising, Merchandising: A pin by any other name

Salutations Stardusters! In my time with the Stardust team, gathering information for my research into the expansive field of Merchandisology, I have found a recurring point of interest among the team.  It is such an extensive point of conversation that the wise Jedi Obi-bot has noticed and joined in the conversation as well. The conversation has many names and in fact has developed a unique qualifier all its own, affectionately called Damnit Nessa’s.  The Starduster, Nessa, seems to be an authority figure on these items of popularity within the fandom.  This elusive yet plentiful item? 

Why, pins of course.  They come in a variety of types but the team has an expressed interest in those of the enamel variety.  In my sophomore piece for the Project Stardust team, it seemed only natural to delve into the world of pins.  And what a collection we have assembled for you today!

Anna’s City in the Skies

Bespin Leia. Creators: @MacGuffinGoods and @UtterlyMagical

This Leia, a collaboration between @MacGuffinGoods and @UtterlyMagical, is the best pin in my collection. It has stained glass, a Millennium Falcon flying over Bespin, and an utterly beautiful depiction of Leia in her Bespin outfit, which is my favorite of all Leia outfits.  It is just absolutely fantastic and I am so happy that I was able to get her upon release. This piece was numbered, and I got 46.  My Star Wars loving father was born in 1946, so I feel like it is him reaching out through the Force to me whenever I look at it. 

Professor Porg: Stunning! The glass! Leia’s expression, as if in contemplation of the events of Bespin and what they will mean for her! The meaning for our Starduster Anna! Truly a gem of a masterpiece. 

Ash’s Ultimate Bounty

Slave 1. Creator: TomRyansStudio

This is one of the first pins I bought that wasn’t a Disney Parks one. Boba Fett has always been one of my favorite characters, so having this as part of my collection makes me happy. It’s also great quality, and I love that the bare metal parts have a shiny mirror finish

Professor Porg: A stunning example of spacecraft!  I have heard tale if you close your eyes and lean your ear close to this pin, you can hear the sound of a seismic charge. 

Jennie and Jyn’s Heart of Kyber

The Jyn Pin. Creator: All Things Nerdy

I’m newer to the Star Wars pin game so I’m just starting to ramp up my collection. But of the ones I have so far, my favorite is this Limited Edition (LE25) Gold Jyn Erso pin by All Things Nerdy (@allthingsnerdypins on Instagram). Jyn is one of my favorite characters and she’s very underrepresented in Star Wars merchandise, including in pins, so when I saw this, I knew I must have it. This pin is so stunning in pictures but even more so in person. It is a beautiful depiction of her Rebel nature and stark confidence with a touch of carefree whimsy she never got to experience as an adult. What makes this pin more special was winning it in an auction where the proceeds went to help another pin creator’s sick pet. Afterall, isn’t helping those in need what being a Rebel is all about?

Professor Porg: Rebel at heart indeed! Even the pearl effect on the background reminds me of Jyn’s heart of Kyber.  And to reach out to help another in need?  Truly it is the way. 

Liv’s Master and Apprentice

Master & Apprentice: Star Wars Celebration Chicago Exclusive

Before attending my first Star Wars Celebration, in Chicago, I had never really understood what a big thing pin collecting is in the fandom. At the con, I suddenly found myself surrounded by thousands of fans frothing at the mouth to get their paws on particular pins, circling booths with exclusives like starved hyenas. Before I knew it, I had been swept up in the craze. I have always been a magpie, attracted to shiny, pretty things, and this inclination certainly fed into my new-found hunger for these little works of art.

This is one of my favorites, and it will forever remind me of how it all began. I got it with the Celebration exclusive edition of Claudia Gray’s Master and Apprentice from Del Rey. It is not very flashy, certainly not the most elaborate pin in my growing collection, but it does feature two of my favorite Jedi – Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan – and its design is based on one of my favorite Star Wars novels. I love its simplicity, and I love their stances, frozen mid battle – Master and Apprentice, side by side.

Professor Porg: Elegance is not always in the elaborate, but in that which speaks to us.  The way the simple lines highlight the colors of the lightsabers?  And to have such a story to go with, the emotion is no less beautiful than the pin itself. 

Nessa is brave, your Highness

Sabé. Creators: beccalynnnart and indyren_pins

As an avid pin collector, picking a favorite is incredibly difficult. After a lot of careful thought and consideration, I found two pins that will always hold an exceptionally important place in my heart and in my collection. Sabé the handmaiden has become a key inspiration to me. Her unrelenting loyalty and dedication to those she loves speaks to something in my soul. I have two Sabé pins in my collection, both of them wearing the feathered headdress from when she swapped in as a decoy for Padmé. The first pin (framed by me) is by @beccalynnnart on Instagram, and the uniqueness of this piece spoke to me the first time I saw it. The second pin is by @indyren_pins on Instagram and her pins heavily feature in my collection for their detail, color, and amazing quality – as well as the deep appreciation that Kayla has for Padmé. Both of these pieces are absolutely amazing and I love having these little gorgeous art pieces to represent my appreciation for Sabé.

Professor Porg: There is much to be said of Sabé, the handmaidens, and what they represent.  Perhaps they are thoughts Project Stardust will bring to us.  But the determination in both pins, of a decoy protecting her queen and her people, I believe the youth’s call it a chef’s kiss?

Stephenie’s Shattered Beauties

I’ve always been a fan of shiny things! But, partly because of my Dusters, I’ve recently started earnestly collecting Star Wars pins! (Well, other than Celebration ones…) I’m an art historian by day so I think of pins generally as little works of art that happen to be extra shiny and more intimate than many of the prints I have hanging on my walls. My attempts to limit them to Leia & Ahsoka have largely failed, but at least I try. Right? My favourite pins so far are Fantasy Pintress’s Shattered and Liminal Pin’s The Pieta (in production). 

Shattered. Creator: Fantasy Pintress

Shattered captures the essence of Ahsoka in Season 7 of The Clone Wars for me: her profile against the shattered glass reminds me not just of the battle on Mandalore, but how Ahsoka was left adrift for a time after leaving the Jedi Order before she finds herself and her mission again. After a major personal upheaval (and international move) in 2018, the arc of loss and new beginnings just really hits home, and the translation of that into such a stunning (and large!) pin was a must-have for me. The effect of the glass is just amazing in person, too. 

The Pieta. Creator: Liminal Pins

The Pieta just makes my art historian heart happy. Both the standard and the variant are amazing, and I’m hoping I’ll luck out on getting a variant like I did for the standard in a very, very intense pre-sale. (Proud Duster moment: this is Nessa & Nissa’s first pin & the pre-sale sold out in less than a minute!! The care they’re putting into it is just amazing!) Michelangelo’s Pieta is a masterpiece of translating emotion into marble; Mary holding her dead son is a haunting image regardless of your beliefs. Transforming that into Obi-Wan holding Anakin takes on not only that religious tint of a fallen “chosen one”, but heightens the emotion and tragedy of Mustafar. Sarah’s art is a masterpiece that makes it all work well. And the variant takes a beautiful piece and turns it into a marble statue (in pin form) with a stained glass background. This reference to Michelangelo’s masterpiece & its physical religious context is just astounding in how it simultaneously captures the meaning for both works and enhances it even further by overlaying the tragedies and theme of redemption both contain. I cannot wait to hold it in my hand!

Professor Porg: Stephenie’s additions are portraits in tragedy, two sides of the same event.  On the one hand we have the shattered survival of Ahsoka Tano, the other the loss and devastation of Anakin’s fall on Mustafar.  How fortuitous that her favorite pins should be together one complete story!

Patty’s Locket full of Leia

This was the pin that started my collection, before I even knew I would be collecting pins.  Folded up, it looked like a simple promo pin for The Force Awakens, a random gift from my mother on one of her visits to the parks.  But then I opened it. Inside was a locket photo of my dear General Leia Organa.  Seeing Leia grow into the lead General of the Resistance was one of my favorite parts of the sequel trilogy. 

Leia’s Locket, as I like to call it, always has pride of place among my collection.  It is a reminder not just of where we’ve been, where we’ve come, but also of everything Carrie herself meant to me.  

Professor Porg: This seems much like the custom of carrying a holo of a loved one.  Perhaps that is what these pins are to our Stardusters, and others as well.  Pieces of loved ones that can be taken with us, carried even when we are galaxies apart. 

Thank you for joining me on another adventure into the wide galaxy of Merchandising!  It seems that there is a vast universe of pins that could be collected, found, and cherished!  I shall continue my research and travels to bring you more Merchandising, Merchandising, Merchandising!