The Rise of the Collector

A Star Wars Profile

Ellie Featherstone

Spanish teacher Ken Beiser in his classroom with his Star Wars collectibles.

Whether you’ve only glanced into his classroom or you’ve had a couple classes in his room, you might have noticed that Spanish teacher Ken Beiser does not have a typical classroom. Star Wars collectibles are everywhere, from the posters lined up on the walls to the Funko Pops stacked on the shelf. 

You may wonder, where did all this stuff come from, and why did he buy it?

He started collecting for his classroom when he bought cheap toys he noticed at stores and showed them off, which would result in people asking him about the toys once they saw he collected them.

He has bought these collectibles just about anywhere that sells them, and a large portion has been gifted to him. His collection includes cereal boxes, posters, mugs, potato heads, coffee creamers, popcorn buckets, and drink cups. 

Beiser began collecting for his classroom 10-12 years ago, but his love for Star Wars began much earlier.

“I have enjoyed Star Wars since I was a little kid, probably seven or eight years old,” Beiser said. “My mom used to babysit my cousins in the summer, and they had the three original movies on VHS. We watched them over and over again until we knew the movies so well that we would reenact the movies ourselves.” 

Currently his favorite movie is Empire Strikes Back, but he usually is the most excited about the newest released movie. His thoughts on the latest released shows were that “The Mandolorian is fantastic! There is a strong argument that The Mandolorian made Star Wars cool again. Baby Yoda is one of the cutest things ever,” he said. “The Rise of Skywalker is a problematic film, but I still like it. Episodes 7-9 are great individually, but as a trilogy they don’t always work.”

A favorite character of Beiser is Darth Vader, which he describes as one of the all time great movie villains and the most quoted Star Wars character. Darth Vader is also recognizable by everyone, and is an iconic figure to both the Star Wars world and pop culture in general.

Beiser is fascinated with Star Wars because “I like the characters, the story, the movies, and the TV shows. The themes they [Star Wars] touch on are about anything; they can be heartwarming, happy, devastatingly sad, or really cool. It hits the spectrum of human emotion.”

Whenever students first set sight on the classroom, their reaction is a mix of shock and wonder. Even if they themselves don’t like Star Wars, they often have a parent, friend, or sibling who does, so they can still identify with the room. 

Sometimes students will say when they first see his classroom, “Do you like Star Wars?”

And he often jokingly responds, “What are you talking about?”