|Inside Star Wars Celebration 2015
This article appears in slightly different form on Drew Campbell's own blog. As he guested on our podcast this week, he offered to let us reprint it here.
While I was excited to see art exhibits, buy new toys and memorabilia, and of course, see the new trailer for The Force Awakens, what truly drove me to Anaheim was the chance to finally meet, in person, several people I've known online for years.
And meet old friends in person, I did. It was absolutely fantastic to meet and be remembered by so many wonderful people, to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen in over a decade.
Thank you to far too many people to list here for giving me a weekend to remember.
Now... How about that trailer?
I didn't feel it necessary to camp out in line Wednesday night for the JJ Abrams/Kathleen Kennedy panel on Thursday morning. The panel would be streamed on the net and frankly, I wanted my sleep.
In line with several thousand fellow Star Wars fans, I watched the entire panel on my phone, headphones plugged into my ears, just like everyone else.
When the trailer began playing, you could hear a pin drop while we breathlessly devoured every new morsel of information given to us.
And there wasn't a dry eye in the house when we collectively heard Han Solo say; "Chewie... We're home".
The cheering that followed was incredible.
In the aftermath of the convention, I've heard a couple of stories here and there of fans behaving poorly, and while I'm certain that happened, I didn't see it.
I've never been more proud to be part of a fandom than I was at Star Wars Celebration. Everyone I talked to, saw, or nearly ran over on my quest to get to another part of the convention was a delight across demographics and ages, sexes, orientations, religions, or lack thereof. We were truly united in our love of Star Wars, and it felt incredible. The convention was the closest thing I'll experience to a true Nerdtopia.
Cosplay has never been bigger than it is today and SWCA was no exception.
You couldn't turn a corner without running into a 501st member in the new Force Awakens "First Order Stormtrooper" armor (or more traditional gear). My favorites, however, were the super-creative types. The mash-up costumes that combined Star Wars and other fandoms.
Big Hero Jedi, Captain Eo, twins dressed as Clonetroopers, Star Wars Playboy Bunnies, Mandalorian Malficient, Jedi Master Elsa, etc.
Merch! So much merch. There was too much of some, too little of others, for my taste, anyway. I really wanted to find a great t-shirt I'd love, but in the end nothing grabbed me (I bought one anyway, of course).
I was hoping for more oddities than I found. I did replace my simple wedding band with a beautiful Imperial insignia ring (with my Wife's kind approval, of course). There were simply too many "flea market"-style resellers there in my opinion.
The Fantasy Flight Games panel did debut Wave 7 of the X-Wing Miniatures Game as was hoped/suspected, though their presence in the Exhibit Hall was smaller than I had anticipated.(three game demos, no RPG information at all, and no sales of any product). Unfortunately, GenCon is no longer within reach for me, so I was hoping for a larger showing.
Star Wars: Rebels held the convention on Saturday, starting out with a panel in the giant Celebration Hall featuring the cast of Rebels with show runner Dave Filoni. A big preview of the second season of Rebels was shown to a standing ovation.
Later in the afternoon, the season premiere of Star Wars: Rebels was shown to several hundred hungry fans. We were all surprised to find that easily 75-80% of the material seen in the preview that morning was in the double-length season opener.
Coming around the corner of the Star Wars.com Cantina (a full-scale Mos Eisley cantina built for streaming web shows and photo ops),
I ran into a good friend who works for Lucasfilm. He immediately thrust into my hand the greatest convention-exclusive collectable I could've hoped for.
A real, physical Sabacc deck.
After years of making my own out of business card printer paper, or even recently via MakePlayingCards.com, I finally had in my hands a real, official, Sabacc deck. I'll post an entry later that compares the Official deck with the one I designed based on the Rebels episode, Idiot's Array.
Saturday night aced the whole weekend for me. I met up with Helen Keier, Ryder Windham, Joe Corroney, Keith Kappel, and Jason Fry for drinks at the Hilton bar... Which we closed. I've known most of these folks for years without having ever met them in person. It was like old-home night and we had a blast.
To say I am sorry the show ended would be an understatement. The next Star Wars Celebration is in London, and if I am ever to travel to England, it won't be to spend four days inside a convention center, so hopefully SWC will return to California after London. I can't wait until I can hang out with 60,000 of my closest friends again.