Star Wars Celebration

Hello America!

I know the two readers of this blog have been wondering…where the hell has he been? Where’s our articles? How hard can it be to put out such drivel once or twice a month?

The answer is simple…I’m lazy. And between a podcast (My Worst Holiday which I’ve recently left), a job (spring is when we get busy), a divorce (finalized in Feb), and a newly refound love of comic collecting (that’s full time in itself), I’ve been short on time.

But recently, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the biggest nerd event of the year. Not Endgame, though that is on my to do list, but Star Wars Celebration.

Now I like Star Wars. I can follow along with most conversations, have read some of the novels, watched most of the movies multiple times (I need to revisit 1, 2, and 3 again), but not so much that I can go to the movies with an open mind, and enjoy it for the entertainment value, and not let little things ruin my experience. (Unlike the first Spider-man series…it comes out of god damn web shooters!)

Unfortunately, I only went Thursday. Luckily, I gave my pass to a friend who is a way bigger fan than I, a collector of memorabilia, and he IS the guy who lets little things ruin the movies for him.

I got there Thursday morning by 8AM, doors open at 1PM, and immediately thought that this was the dumbest idea I have had in a long time. Looking back, I am regretting not spending the morning exploring the city, and waltzing in at 1PM when the masses had already gone in for the “I’m here first!!!” moment.

The “Official” store’s lines were filled all day long. Three hour wait unless you were one of the first bunch in. When they got there, the POS was not working, so the poor workers were being harassed for something totally out of their control.

Kids, if you are ever in line, and the Point of Sale (register), goes down. Yelling at the person working it does no good. They didn’t build the register, they didn’t write the program, hell, half of them can’t do the math in their head if you give them change after you ring it in. So save your stories about how your store, business, etc. does it better, because nobody cares, and it’s all probably bullshit anyway. I’m looking at you WalMart guy, who have robots checking people out.

And then you enter. At first, there are a bunch of cars that are wrapped with different Star Wars scenes, and it’s pretty cool to look at. Not cool enough for me to take a picture of, but cool to glance at. The first thing I noticed was the lines. Now, I was probably one of the first 200 people in the venue, with the peasant pass (nonVIP). I immediately notice the Funko line, which was a few hundred people long. That was next to the Lego line, which wasn’t near as long, but long enough that I had no interest looking at Lego’s for about 2 hours. The other long line was at the trading cards. Apparantly, the cards had it set up that you could get exclusive sets every day. So, if you weren’t going to be there every day, you better know someone who is, and is willing to sit in line for 2 hours…every day. The guys I was standing by in line with drove all the way from New Jersey (12 hours), just to get the exclusive sets, and were scrambling to get a Monday pass, so they could all use it to get in and get the exclusives, because limited to one per I believe.

One cool thing is the different groups on Facebook all coordinated, and had their own badges. They all had pins, poker chips, and other knick knacks made up, and they were trading them amongst themselves. By the end of the day, people had more flair on them than the dude from Office Space. Most were very kind, and were very giving with their buttons. I got a few, but my ADHD kicked in, and once I left the line, I quickly lost interest.
On one end of the convention hall was the uber nerd section. This is where all the CosPlay groups set up, the guys building robots and droids, and the such. I was amazed at the size of the groups, and every one of them was beaming, and so enthusiastic about the costumes running about. I did spend some time talking to them, and really was amazed at the dedication, attention to detail, and overall enthusiasm they had for their niche in the Star Wars Universe. Also in this section, you could get your pictures taken in various sets from the movies, with Jabba, in front of a Tie Fighter, etc.
On the other side, you had all the “Certified” Star Wars tattoo artists. Apparently, someone decided that these guys must have to be a certain skill level, and more importantly, pay the money to become certified, and they got to set up shop. I don’t have an exact count, but I am guessing at least 20 artists on Thursday, say five tattoos a day, because they weren’t doing anything too involved…they probably paid for their certification by the end of Thursday, early Friday, and the rest was pure profit. This was the second time I saw tattoo sections set up, where they only did tattoos of the convention subject, the first at Starcast (Wrestling convention)
The autograph/photo area was designed like Ace Comic Universe…whatever they called it. And to be honest, I liked how they did it. Many times, you are fighting thru crowds who are gathered to get free glimpses, or take free pictures of celebrities. That is their business, and I’ll leave it at that.
Here, you check in with your tickets for the signature or photo op, and then there is a space before the lines. Non customers are kept behind barricades, so you can get in and out easily, find your line, and it takes away some of the stress. There are flaws in the system as is every system, but it does seem to make everything go a bit faster.

The stands and kiosks had pretty much everything you wanted that was Star Wars. Dresses…check. Rare Boba Fett figure from Kenner…how many you want. Autographed comics and art by Alex Ross…gorgeous. Disgruntled droid buying his own booth because he felt he could make more money…CcheckPO. Light Saber hilts…yes please. Certified autographs…who do you want? Toys, clothes…realistically, anything you can get a Star Wars logo on, or somehow tie it into the universe, they people were there, they were selling their stuff, and counting their money…well, your money.

I was lucky to have gone with a group of friends, so the following are a combination of everyones opinions. They were all happy that there was a little more space between booths than there were at C2E2 (not a droid, pop culture/comic expo held earlier this year. I was surprised by this, because…not to shame…but many of the fans were Ton Ton sized, smelled just as bad, and they took up a LOT of aisle space.

The fans were mostly assholes. They were rude, and in such a hurry to get places, that they would push through and not even say excuse me. At a convention, I try to take up as little of space as possible, because I am respectful…most were not.

On the flip side, the Cosplayers were super friendly, and loved getting their pictures taken. And fans would also take your picture with them if you had nobody else to do it. I find this pretty common at conventions. Really, when you get large groups of people together for one reason, most of them are pretty nice and helpful that way. In my concert/ convention going experience, I’ve only seen three fights, and one a super drunk guy who was being a dick was pushing through the crowd, and decided to swing on a gigantic blonde bodybuilder guy. He got knocked out. At an Ozzy concert , a tiny Asian man (5’4”) decided to stand on a chair, and swing at a large African American security man, he was knocked out, and his leg got caught in the chair, and we heard the snap over the music. And the last was at a Dave Matthews show in the parking lot, the place is near empty, and one hippy somehow ran into another hippy, they hopped out and had the worst fist/slap fight ever. Neither were amused by our laughter and cat calls, and luckily for us the police showed up or they’d have made us smell like patchouli.

The staff was friendly, but overwhelmed. The food prices were outrageous, but not Spooky Empire Outrageous. They did allow snacks and bottled waters to be brought in, so I made it through with minimal damage to my bank account.

Overall, it was an okay experience. I really don’t think I was a big enough fan to truly appreciate it, and it might have even been a bit overwhelming. I do suggest if you ever go, to stand by a heavy traffic toy seller. It is amazing listening to the collectors talk. They know every glitch, every run, every little nuance about every toy there. I have a friend who is an encyclopedia when it comes to Darth Vader and his toys, which is sadly impressive to me, but I have another friend Ogre who specializes in Boba Fett stuff, but can pretty much fill in all the facts on the other toys as well. He does the same type of thing with comic books too. It is just amazing though to hear them talk to one another, almost like another language.

That’s all I have. I could ramble all day about it, but if you get the chance to go, definitely go just to people watch. The big rumor was the next one was going to be in France, so start saving your money now.

JR

Author: Jay Roach

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