When I was a kid I was super into Star Wars. As an adult I am super into Star Wars. :) I had a lot of the toys like most people my age at the time but there were a few I struggled to find and my father, sharing in my fascination would buy them for me from time to time. One character, for whatever reason, I could never find was the Imperial Guard. For those not steeped into the lore they were the private bodyguards of the Emperor seen only briefly in Return to Jedi.
I don't know if it was the mystery of them (no explanation given in the movie) or the bright color that made them standout from the otherwise monochromatic scene but I was instantly enamored with them. Naturally I loved Luke, Han, Chewy, Yoda, IG-88, Vader, etc. as well but these somewhat obscure characters were usually the answer I gave when my friends asked me what my favorite was. I usually had to explain it to them or pull out a poster I had with them in the background.
Christmas 1980-something (88? 89? not sure) I woke up at the butt crack of dawn with my sister and we proceeded to loudly call for our parents because we were so excited to open presents. Hell I don't think the sun was even all the way up but we were kids and it was Christmas so they begrudgingly agreed. Knowing the shape, weight and sound of action figures it was easy to identify which packages under the tree would help my collection. When my father went into the bathroom I stormed down the hallway and asked him if I could open one while I waited for him.
He and I had different recollections of what happened next but I could have sworn he grunted a "yes" and I proceeded to rip into the package to reveal the bright red armor of my beloved oddball bad guy. Upon entering the living room and seeing me holding the toy I could see the frustration bubbling up inside him but before he began to say anything in anger he paused and smiled then sat down to play with me. As a kid I attributed it to a Christmas miracle and we proceeded to open gifts and had a great time together.
That little moment cemented my love of the bright red Imperial Guard and I was excited to see them make a comeback in the newer movies. I shared this story with my good buddy Steve so when we toured Legoland he purchased me a keychain version of my favorite character and I one for him (Boba Fett in his case). Being on a keychain those Legos take a real beating, as a result he and I have continued to buy each other replacements (currently on our 3rd iteration each). Recently I got on eBay to buy him another Boba Fett for Christmas. Sadly his is out of print so I had to pay more than triple the original price!
I continue to buy toys, comics and figurines of the Imperial Guard. A few of which adorn shelves in my office at work while the rest remain safely in storage at home.