Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Con-Man: Star Wars Celebration 2015 Saturday

While our limited time at Star Wars Celebration on Friday was fun, Saturday showed some of the cracks of this near regular gathering. First off for some unknown reason, everyone had to enter through a queue that took you to the far end of the convention center, downstairs through an empty area then back up onto the exhibition floor. Mind you this was after the 10:00 AM doors opening. Then since your badges were already mailed to you, it was an effort to try and find a program or lanyard. To be fair, there's an app you could download for the program but it's nice to have a physical copy. Then they ran out of lanyards yesterday or early this morning so we kept having to pull badges out of our pockets. If you're not going to have enough lanyards to pass out, then consider putting a clip on the badge.

Walking around the floor, I realized that it wasn't actually that big. There were plenty of toys, props and artwork to check out but the floor was really missing a full Artist Alley where local vendors could show off their artistic and crafty wares. There was swag galore from all eras of Star Wars licensing with Underoos, Pepperidge Farm Cookies, goblets and lots of stuffed toys. Posters and prints were everywhere and one stand had an awesome array of original film programs! These were full color, magazine sized advertisement/press kits for various flicks like Willow, Buck Rogers, Rocky IV and more. I was really hoping to see one for Masters of the Universe but no luck. Of course Saturday's are always the busiest days at conventions and Star Wars sold out along with 4 Day badges. It was kind of like Disneyland, everything had a line. The escalators, food stands, bars, the Star Wars store (only one?!), Art Show, Arena, etc. While some areas felt spaced out and comfortable, some of the rows of vendors seemed crammed together which made walking, viewing and shopping a little frustrating. I even got my toes partially run over by a wheelchair at one point.

Cosplay wise there wasn't as much as you'd imagine but it is a brand specific show so who knows. The Muppets' Waldorf and Statler as Imperial Officers was great as were some of the Star Wars and Disney mash ups. There's an exhibit of costumes from The Force Awakens but the wait had already stretched to two hours quickly after opening. We checked out a couple of panels in the main hall, the first was ILM and how their work has grown and changed through the years as a ground breaking special effects company. Going from stop motion animation to computer graphics, creating water and fire, miniatures and matte paintings, ILM has kept on the cutting edge of movie making magic. Surprisingly, Star Wars: Episode I had the most miniatures ever used in an ILM feature but the flick's FX scale was even more daunting as a typical blockbuster film employs 400 some shots while E:I had 2,000! Also surprising was the abundant use of fake environments used in flicks today from woods whipping by to highways Transformers fight on. In a nice touch, each room was cleared after each panel so you wouldn't get people just taking up space waiting for the next session.

Next up was Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dream Team that brought together four production designers and artists to talk their careers and the new flick. A stacked group of guests who help facilitate the vision of directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Zack Snyder and Roland Emmerich. You know, guys who make big movies. They were tight lipped about the new film but did mention simplifying the story, getting to the core of the characters and not using the whiz-bang of technology simply because they could. It was time for a break but our WonderCon oasis at the Marriott, NFuse, dried up into a shitty hotel bar as they weren't filling the joint and making peeps wait an hour! Guess they don't like money, pfft, later! Mark Hamill's spotlight was packed beyond capacity so we opted for some more floor walking and watched the first part of Empire Strikes Back. It was very cool of the show to screen all six movies over three nights. Only crappy part was that the screen wasn't high enough so if someone tall or with big hair sat in front of you, you were screwed. The new trailer screened again to thunderous applause and the audience was great, waving lightsabers and cheering for each iconic line and character introduction. One thing I really noticed about Empire is how much acting Harrison Ford does by pointing at someone. He's still the OG though.

Some more dranks were had and we dug through some bins on the floor picking up a few little figures and knick knacks like a Chewbacca goblet. A fun show for sure but I'm glad it's not every year. There's just not quite enough going on to keep you busy and standing in line for a couple hours should not be expected of attendees. Next year's show has already been lined up for April in London so I guess we'll have to find a new show to check out. Until then use your harpoons!

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