Celebration IV - Star Wars convention - May 24 - May 28, 2007 - a sort of trip report

May 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, and Celebration IV, a Star Wars convention, is being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The convention officially runs from Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 28. Members of the Star Wars Fan Club who purchased a four-day pass were also available to attend an extra day, on Thursday, May 24. Few events were really scheduled for the day, but all the halls and exhibits were open so fan club members could get an early start. Each member was also given four "friends and family" coupons that could be used by non-members to attend fan club only events.

They also ran a marathon of all six films (in George order) on Wednesday, May 23. We did get tickets (free for attendees) just in case, but we ended up deciding not to go since it didn't really work into our schedule. We checked into our hotel on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the upcoming activities. There are multiple hotels which attendees can stay, and shuttle buses run between the convention center and those hotels.

On Thursday, I know a lot of people waited a long time in line, but it wasn't that bad for us. We took the shuttle from our hotel to the convention center and got there around 11:30 on Thursday, when everything was opening up at noon. The lines were pretty insane, both to get into the halls and to the Celebration store, so we had lunch at the Sky Box at Staples, and by the time we were done and came back, all the lines were gone and everyone was inside. It took maybe half an hour to get through the Celebration store line. I wasn't that impressed with most of what was available, but that's ok because it meant I didn't spend that much. We each got a t-shirt and we got a couple of the R2 and 3PO event exclusive figures. I might go back tomorrow to get a few of the glasses.

It was nice having the extra day to go through the exhibits and such so we didn't have to worry about them for the rest of the weekend. We also did most of our shopping in the dealer's room on Thursday.

They had a room of stuff from the Lucasfilm archives that we were interested in seeing, but I think we're too jaded. We went into the archive on Thursday, and there were a few cool things, but it was mostly, "Oh, we've seen that." We've been to a number of exhibits, including the costuming one and the recent one at the Science Museum, so most of the stuff wasn't that new or as cool as some of the other stuff we've seen.

They also had a Vader helmet exhibit that we saw on Friday. It was 30 or so Vader helmets that had been given to various artists to decorate as they wished. It kind of reminded me of the 75 Mickeys thing they had for Mickey's 75th birthday. Some of the helmuts were cool. Some, like the clown Vader, were odd and/or scary.

And then there was shopping. The dealer's room was fairly large, and as expected, mostly filled with Star Wars related merchandise.

Hasbro has a boatload of stuff that I want, most of which are in the Galactic Heroes line, what we call "little squat people" because of the way they look. They're designed for children (they used to be released by Fisher Price), but they're appealing to both kids and collectors. They had one display with all the figures made to date, including both what has already been released and what will be released. There are a number of sets being released this year, including some exclusive to only Target, Walmart or Toys R Us. They're coming out with a Jabba who's really cool, and I don't recall the tauntaun from before, but that's coming out again in another set. Now if they'd only do a rancor!

In the figures line, they're releasing R2 in the net from ROTJ, but I so want 3PO with an eye that can be pulled out - accompanied by Salacious Crumb!

Lego has a $500 Millenium Falcon that's coming out. They had it fully set up, and it was amazing. Pre-orders are being taken now. We managed to get two of the exclusive Vader/royal guards/stormtroopers sets. Those were cool, even though I had to think about whether to buy it, since it was $50. We later heard they were already being sold on ebay for $750...

We were in the Hasbro panel when they mentioned the R2-KT figure and the story behind it. I'd never heard it before, so it was heartbreaking and heartening to hear about. The actual droid was brought in, escorted by members of the 501st. If you're interested, you can read about the backstory here.

Thursday night, we went to a showing of "Star Wars in 30 Minutes". It's a live action re-telling by about 7 people of episodes 4, 5 and 6 in about 30 minutes. They started this as a joke when many of them were at USC and have been performing it for over 10 years now, I think. They're usually at cons, and I don't know if they're still doing it, but at least for a while, they were performing at a little tiny theatre in Los Angeles. They were absolutely great - highly recommended. Absolutely hysterical. Jabba completely steals the show.

Friday marked the actual 30th birthday of Star Wars, and it was declared as Star Wars Day in Los Angeles.

They had a panel on Friday talking about new toys in the Star Wars/Disney line that will be coming out later this year and sometime next year. Five more are coming out in the Star Wars/Mr. Potato Head line - Boba Fett, Darth Maul, Luke, Leia and Han. They will also be doing more in the way of Disney characters as Star Wars characters, with Mickey as Luke, Minnie as Leia, Goofy as Vader, Donald as Han and I think Stitch as the Emperor.

They also mentioned that since the princess line has been doing so well, they're doing a similar thing with Leia and Padme, where they'll have interchangeable clothes and hairstyles. That's still in the planning stage, but it looks pretty cool.

Oh, and as part of the Jedi Mickey thing, they'll be releasing Jedi Mickey's lightsabre.

Someone asked about Star Wars weekends coming to Anaheim, and a Disney rep said they're "working on it", so it's anyone's guess what that means.

On another panel, some of the creators of the visual effects were also asked about Star Tours, and they said they had a number of different ideas for different places to go and things that would go wrong, but nothing has been authorized yet.

The Opening Ceremonies on Friday night (and I thought it was weird to have opening ceremonies on the evening of the first official day of the con, but ok), were cool, even though it was one example where the con isn't as organized as one might expect. Funny political moment - the large amount of booing that accompanied the introduction of the Mayor of L.A. when he came out to make the official proclamation of Star Wars Day. Later in the evening, they had us all sing happy birthday to Star Wars - and then they actually had cake to give out to everyone! They were small pieces, and each of them had a plastic ring on it. It was really cool. Like the cupcakes at Disney's 50th, they had made sure there was plenty of cake to go around, so they came back with a second wave to see if anyone wanted more. I got Vader, and the husband got 3PO. I think I saw an R2 as well, but I'm not sure. The cake was actually quite tasty too. Also, as you were coming in through the doors, you got a USPS commemorative envelope with one of the Star Wars stamps. We got an x-wing, so I was happy. We bought some of the Star Wars stamp products the next day. The postal service was in full force at the con, selling the Star Wars stamp products and with shipping services available for con members.

As expected, there were a lot of people in all kinds of costumes. Various types of troopers everywhere. Dark Anakin was also very popular. And there was definitely a contingent of women dressed as Slave Leia, including some who really shouldn't have been...

Speaking of which, I saw one guy dressed (or should I say scantily clad?) in full Slave Leia costume. Not a pretty sight. I heard there was another guy similarly dressed. I was surprised not to see a single ROTJ Luke. That's actually one of my favorites. Quite a few Darth Mauls, in various stages of being impressive. We saw a wampa today, who looked awesome.

I found a picture of one of the guys dressed as Slave Leia. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. NO, SERIOUSLY, DO YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS?

There was apparently a bomb scare Friday night during opening ceremonies, and they evacuated part of the building. Jay, who played Captain Typho, is the host of one of the stages, and he told us about it the next day. He says from now on, any "suspicious package" should be referred to as a "Hasbro", since it turned out to be a toy that some kid had apparently left in the restroom.

Saturday highlights for me:

VFX Rock Stars panel - John Knolll, Richard Edlund, Ken Ralston, Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett. Oh my gosh. The amount of experience and innovation just on that panel. Phil Tippett had a great story to tell about working the rancor, so I loved that.

Ben Burtt - Have always loved his sound abilities. Incredible.

A Conversation with Carrie Fisher - She was awesome. She had some great stories to tell. I'd love to hear more from her, and not just about her Star Wars experience.

Sunday highlights for me:

Ray Park - Wow, he is amazing. Talented, and charming to the end. So unlike his Darth Maul persona, but the transformation when he gets into makeup and costume! At the end, he had a bunch of little kids (and some adults snuck in too) onstage, and he was showing them techniques. Heck, who needs Jedi Training Academy? He's just finished a new movie - he'll be playing Chuck Norris in a movie about Bruce Lee. I think it's going to be amazing, and I can't wait to see it.

Anthony Daniels - Funny, personable, genuinely in love with 3PO and seems to be extremely appreciative of the fan support.

Steve Sansweet on "The Star Wars Vault" - This is a book being released later in the year that looks to be like "Dressing the Galaxy" - lots of great archive material and pull-outs and the like. A must-have for Star Wars fans.

Monday will be pretty low-key for us. There's maybe one or two things in the morning we want to see, then I figure another swing by the Celebration store and the dealer's room for any last-minute buys, and then it's on to the El Capitan for POTC3.



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