Star Wars Celebration opens the blast doors to McCormick Place in Chicago this weekend, and LEGO will be there to celebrate a milestone.

The year 1999 marked the dawn of a new era in Star Wars fandom with the release of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace. But it was also the year that a then-unusual pairing hit toy departments. In the building section, just a few aisles away from where Star Wars action figures were making their first appearance since the mid-1980s, the first LEGO Star Wars sets hit shelves.

At the time, LEGO was not known for licensed products — but the company was struggling.  Licensing, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might have said, was a “first step into a larger world.” And what a tremendous world it’s become. …

LEGO Star Wars Timeline

Two decades later, LEGO Star Wars is going strong, and a special presentation, 20 Years of the LEGO Star Wars Story — A Retrospective and Forward Look, will take place on Friday, April 12 at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Additionally, a limited-edition LEGO Darth Vader Bust will be offered as a Celebration exclusive.

LEGO Star Wars 20th Anniversary sets are available now, with new sets based on Star Wars: Episode IX slated for release in October.

Photos: LEGO Group