Oldbury shop reveals collectable Star Wars toys ahead of Rogue One release
It was a case of déjà vu at Toys 'R' Us in Oldbury last night - well, the early hours of the morning - as Star Wars fans gathered, yet again, to be among the first to purchase the latest merchandise from 2016s hotly anticipated film.
Rogue One: a Star Wars Story is released in cinemas mid-December.
It recounts how rebels steal the blueprints to the Death Star - a kind of prequel to the 1977 classic movie.
Tantalising fans, yesterday - on the stroke of midnight - up and down the land, shops revealed toys and collector items galore.
A similar event 12 months earlier heralded the coming storm of The Force Awakens. At that gathering, around 150 fans lined up in Oldbury waiting for the shutters to roll.
For Rogue One, the turnout was slightly down on that, but hey, we've only had to wait a year for more adventures in a galaxy far, far away as compared to the 10-year hiatus that led up to the 2015 blockbuster.
As with the previous event, costumed characters joined in with the fun. Stormtroopers and X-Wing pilots entertained the gathering as the minutes ticked by.
The queue was shorter, but I recognised the three 'rogues' at the front. The same three dedicated fans who were first in line 12 months ago. It was like some bizarre flashback, but to see them again.
Aspiring stand-up comedian Jonathan Hipkiss, from Halesowen, arrived at 8pm.
The 25-year-old has been a fan of the saga all his life.
“Like last year, I’ve been saving for weeks for tonight.”
Arriving around the same time, 33-year-old Chris Cooke, also from Halesowen, enthused about last years movie and looked forward to Rogue One, starring local girl Felicity Jones.
"I can’t wait for December. I’ll be living in the IMAX - again,” he said.
Elder statesman of the group, James Woodcock, from Wednesbury, is 47.
"I loved The Force Awakens," said James. "I can't wait for Rogue One."
Store manager Niall McMurray, a Shrewsbury resident, has worked for Toys ‘R’ Us for 12 years.
Having spent much of his career at the Shrewsbury branch, Niall has been at the Oldbury store for three years now.
"I think you guys are going to be happy," he said to the crowd.
"We are better stocked this year."
Force Friday, as it was known in 2015, was rather rationed in terms of stock, leaving many fans disappointed. No fault of the retailer, the anticipation was somewhat underestimated by the manufacturers.
For 2016, the event known as Go Rogue aimed to rectify that. And to a certain extent it did.
As fans made their way to the checkouts with action figures and more, costumed characters hammed it up in the aisles and everyone had a ball.
"It's going to be like this every year from now on," smiled Jonathan.
"We'll be forever in a loop, meeting in Oldbury in darkness for Star Wars."