The vast legions of Star Wars fans still have to wait another couple of weeks before they can finally settle into darkened movie houses and feast their eyes on George Lucas’ The Phantom Menace — the prequel to his epic series of intergalactic adventures. But the wait is now officially over for Star Wars aficionados to dig into their wallets and buy into the merchandising frenzy that has long been a hallmark of Lucas’ incredibly profitable cinematic universe.

As of midnight May 3, cash registers across America were ready to ring up sales of officially authorized Phantom Menace products — everything from new books and video games to specially designed Lego R2-D2 kits and “interactive animatronic” coin banks that allow the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul to start swinging lightsabers at each other at the drop of a nickel.

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