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 The Force proves to be strong with

Order 66 Toys after 5 years

 

By Brandi Price

     Imperial troops kept watch along streets just off of the McKinney Square on Sept. 5 and 6 as Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and an array of other characters from a galaxy far, far away helped celebrate the anniversary of their home away from home.

     People of all shapes and sizes were dressed in their best costumes from characters from the movie franchise “Star Wars” to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Order 66 Toys store being in business. Men dressed as Storm Troopers, Shadow Troopers, and a Tie Fighter Pilot, otherwise known as the bad guys, walked along Chestnut Street and greeted passersby. Darth Vader even made an appearance inside of the store at 111 S. Chestnut Street as co-owner Jeff Durazzo and his song, Josh, his wife, Heather sold action figures, ships, vehicles, dolls, and many other items to an anxious customers.

     There were plenty of recently released new figurines for sale from the much anticipated, upcoming “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”, which opens in theaters on Dec. 18. “The Force Awakens” continues the story line decades after where “Return of the Jedi” ended. Veteran “Star Wars” actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are featured in the new film, and will portray their much beloved characters Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. Actor Peter Mayhew will return to play Solo’s trusted Wookie friend, Chewbacca. Anthony Daniels will return to reprise his role as C-3PO, and Kenny Baker will also return to portray the beloved white and blue droid R2-D2.

     “Star Wars” fans who grew up watching “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”, “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”, and “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” and their children who became fans while watching the later released Episodes I, II, and III filled the store. They had their photos taken with people dressed as Chewbacca, Solo’s Woookie sidekick, and various other characters from the movies.

     Those enthusiastic and devoted fans are what co-owners Jeff and Josh Durazzo attribute to the store’s continued success. “Our awesome customers are often our ambassadors. They bring in friends and let other ‘Star Wars’ fans know that we’re here,” said Order 66 Toys’ Social Media Manager Heather Durazzo.

     The store was initially located at 208 E. Virginia Street in 2010, in a very small shop, which had previously been a watch repair shop. “That location was great for foot traffic, but we need more room!” explained Jeff Durazzo. Two years later they packed up their prized merchandise, which spans more than three decades, and moved a little farther east along the downtown area to their larger, current location on Chestnut Street. The larger location provides the Durazzos to schedule events. More people flocked to the store, and fans found a place where they could share their enthusiasm for their love of the “Star Wars” universe. “After we moved, we had more room to spread out and have events in the store. We were then able to get a lot more word out about the store,” said Heather Durazzo. She updates the store’s events on the store’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/order66unleashed .

    Being located in downtown McKinney, with its constant annual and season events that bring in thousands of tourists has helped to bring more people into the store. “The downtown McKinney community has been indispensable to us. The many events on the square and the shopping attractions bring in locals and people who have never heard of us,” said Heather Durazzo. “The other shop owners have helped us out by promoting our events and tell their customers about our store.”

     An example of some of the events that the owners of Order 66 Toys was in full swing on Sept. 5 and 6. The Durazzos brought in actresses Nalini Krishan, who portrayed Jedi Knight Barriss Offee in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”, and Orli Shoshan, who portrayed Jedi Master Shaak Ti in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” to sign autographs and mingle with customers.

     A costume contest was held, and children and adults alike dressed as Darth Vader, the short alien Jawas trade characters, Imperial Storm Troopers, and the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett. Cameron Holly of Grapevine and John Simpson from Roanoke braved the heat and dressed in costume as Imperial troopers. Holly wore a black Imperial Tie Fighter Pilot, who pilots suit, which he designed himself.

     Both men are part of the international 501st Legion non-profit group, where members dress as Imperial Storm Troopers, Shadow Troopers, Tie Fighter pilots, and sith lords. The group’s motto is, “Bad Guys Doing Good” as all members dress as imperial workers and those who practice the dark side of the force. Holly and Simpson are part of the local 501st Legion group, the Star Garrison. The organization requires members to create their own “Star Wars” character costumes, which must meet very stringent and specific requirements.

     Simpson spent five months working on his trooper suit and Holly spent two months perfecting his pilot suit. Simpson said that he works on it, “all day and every day”, and that he and the rest of the volunteers devote their time, money and energy to the group for the love of “Star Wars” and to help kids. “We do it for the kids. Today we’re out here for a local Boy Scout,” Simpson said.

     That Boy Scout is Marcus McEnroe, a local McKinney ISD high school student, who asked Order 66 Toys customers to help save lives by registering as a bone marrow donors. Getting people to register as bone marrow donors is part of his project for him to earn his Eagle Scout badge. He also wants to help a McKinney ISD middle school student who is currently fighter cancer.

     Many people learned how just easy it is to help save life and practice the teachings of the lighter side of the Force by registering as a bone marrow donor, at the anniversary party. As of 4 p.m. on Sept. 6 at least 22 people had registered to be bone marrow donors. Order 66 customers who bought figurines of their favorite heroes also helped the Wounded Warriors non-profit organization earn more than $500. That money will be used to help improve lives of real-life heroes in the United States Armed Forces who have been wounded in battle. Jedi Master Yoda would be proud.

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