Okay, if I'm gonna be blasting Star Wars and Star Wars culture, I should probably fess up to what my own Star Wars culture actually was. It's all rather murky, to tell you the truth, but I know that the first SW film I saw was The Empire Strikes Back. In the theater, with a parent more or less filling us in on what we'd missed, and translating some of the more complicated dialog. It was 1980, I would have been all of 9, and would have started learning English in school only the year before. A lot of its images stuck with me, and when I have a vivid memory of Empire, it really is from that first viewing.
I only ever owned one Star Wars toy, though I remember also admiring a friend's Y-Wing. It was Kenner's Droid Factory, which was on sale in '79-'80. Maybe THAT was my first actually Wars contact.
Skip to 5th grade, 1981, and I read a classroom copy of the Star Wars novelization, in French. At this point, I have no idea when I actually saw the first film for the first time. I'd seen it by the time I graduated high school, but I have no independent recollection. Return of the Jedi came out in 1983 and in was re-released in 1986. I can't tell you which one I actually saw. Looks like the films themselves are a bit of a blind spot, eh? But I know that by the time I was 12 or 13, I'd signed up with Columbia Books' Science Fiction Book Club, and among my first purchases were three Han Solo novels:
Conclusion? I seem to be at once too old and too young to have become a rabid Star Wars fan the way I became a Trekkie and a Whovian. If I'd been older, I'd have seen the first film in theaters and understanding the language. If I'd been younger, the Extended Universe stuff might have hit at the exact right time for me to get in deep on that side of things. As is, I don't even have a Star Wars RPG product in here (which seems a glaring omission when you see the game collection's wide range), and I'm on a blog having fun taking the first film down a peg...
Feel free to share your early Star Wars experiences. I wonder if anyone's mirrors mine, or how far off I am from the typical fan.