Star Wars Celebration VI Report
by Michael Kearney (Scruffy_Nerfherder)
A LOOK BACK AT CELEBRATION VI
Has it really been over a week since Celebration VI wrapped up and sent each of us back to our own corner of the universe? It feels like just yesterday I was just walking the convention floor, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Now that I have had a few days to unwind and process all of the things I saw and did, I figured it was the perfect time to sum up the experience in a few paragraphs and attempt to share with you what the experience was like.
After arriving in town Wednesday afternoon and checking into our room and the Rosen Center, we decided to unwind with a trip over to Universal City Walk for a bite to eat and go over our plans for covering Day 1 of Celebration. For me, it was my first appearance at a Celebration since Celebration IV back in 2007. I really did not know what to expect from the Orlando Convention Center. Would it be better than LA? Better than Indianapolis? One thing was for sure, I was going to find out soon enough.
Day 1 got off to an early and busy start. After picking up my credentials, I decided to pass on waiting in what looked like a mile-long line waiting to enter the main exhibit hall and instead chose to check out the 501st and R2 Builder's rooms. This was my first wise decision of the week. The 501st pulled out all the stops with an impressive display of not just costumes but life-sized dioramas based on such memorable scenes as the trash compactor, Emperor's throne room and the detention block on the Death Star. As for the R2 Builder's, the craft and detail level these builders are capable of seems to have increase tenfold since Celebration IV. If you've never checked them out, you really are missing out on one of the gems of a Celebration convention.
After checking out those rooms, the line had died down to the point where I could enter the exhibit hall at my own pace. Once inside the size of the room blew me away. Where at the previous Celebrations I have attended, each area was in its own room (dealers, vendors, autographs, artists) this convention brought everything into one amazingly large room. After picking up a couple of exclusives I was looking forward to, I started making the rounds. At first it was just a quick pass through, to get a feel of the layout of the convention and see where everything was located. After that the rest of the afternoon was all about going slowly back through the hall, taking pictures and soaking up every little detail each booth had to offer.
As the afternoon wrapped up, I had one last thing I had to do before calling it a day. An opportunity I had been looking forward to for over two months. Thanks to the great folks at Rancho Obi-Wan and Parker Publicity I had the opportunity to sit down and talk one-on-one with the President and CEO of Ranch Obi-Wan himself, Steve Sansweet. Mr. Sansweet could not have been more kind and accommodating. Even with his hectic schedule he treated us like we were old friends and made sure all our questions got answered. Of all the great memories I brought home with me, meeting and talking with Mr. Sansweet was definitely the highpoint. I look forward to one day taking a trip out to Ranch Obi-Wan and touring the amazing collection Mr. Sansweet has put together.
Friday was a short day at the convention for me. After making the round of the exhibit hall and picking up my daily free goodies from Hasbro, Topps and Cartamundi, I decided to use my few hours at the show to cover a few of the collectors panels.
The collecting panels have become some of the favorite sessions at a Celebration convention. Not only do you get great inside information on everything from autographs to bootlegs, but also have the opportunity to walk out of one of the panels with a great little keepsake. In the past, these panels have offered the attendees unique collectibles as a way of saying "Thanks for stopping by!" Past handouts have included trading cards, coins and even mini cereal boxes. This year, they offered small, coin-like collectibles called "Star Tots". The Star Tots was a line of small 'toddler-friendly' Star Wars figures that was proposed back in the 1970's but never made it to production. These give-a-ways at the collectors panels took that concept and used it to create these great little collectibles that came carded and enclosed inside a clam shell.
The panels I managed to attend on Friday were the Autograph collecting and Lego collecting sessions. Each panel featured a knowledgeable group of experts who offered their insight on the do's and don’ts of collecting in that specific field.
Saturday kicked off with an opportunity to catch a behind-the-scenes presentation of what goes into converting the Star Wars movies into 3D. Visual Effects Supervisors Dennis Muren and John Knoll took the stage and talked about the process that went into converting Episode I to 3D and how that process has change for the Episode II conversion. The presentation wrapped up with a sneak preview of about 5 minutes from Episode II. Some of the scenes previewed included the Coruscant chase of Zam Wessel, the lightsaber battle between Yoda and Dooku, and the assembling of the Clone Army.
After that it was back to the main exhibit hall to check out some of the areas I had not ventured to yet. Included in my Day 3 exploration was the Lego builders’ area which included some of the most amazing Star Wars dioramas I have ever seen, the Star Wars Cars area which included some imaginative and even comical automobile customizations. I also took a quick walk through "Autograph Alley" to see firsthand the amazing assembly of Star Wars actors from all six feature films as well as the Clone Wars animated series. Before wrapping up Day 3 I got the opportunity to sit down with friend of The Cantina. Chris "HothIcePlanet" Smith is the co-host of 'The Sarlacc Pit' which is the official podcast of GalacticBinder.com. Chris is also the author of a new Star Wars trivia book titled "Trivia From a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Star Wars - Original Trilogy Edition" which is now available for sale on Amazon. Be sure to pick up a copy and help support a fellow Star Wars fan.
The days had passed in a rapid-fire manner. As I stood there on the floor of the convention I could not believe that the last day of Celebration VI was upon us. Deciding to get in as much as possible before leaving the convention center for the last time, I immediately headed off to the Rancho Obi-Wan Experience. For those of you unaware, Steven Sansweet and the staff at ROW decided to bring a 'microscopic' portion of Steve's vast Star Wars collection to Celebration to share with all of the fans who may never have the chance to visit the actual Ranch themselves. Included in the display were several props from the films along with prototypes, items that were originally given to cast and crew members only and even some fan created art. There was even a USPS mailbox designed to look like R2-D2 that was donated to the collection by the Post Office.
After checking out the experience (and purchasing a ROW membership kit) I took in the 'As You Wish' Project which included a couple dozen Clone Trooper and Boba Fett helmets customized by members of the 501st to help raise money for charity.
From there it was on to soak in the 'Return to Tatooine" Diorama building area which over the course of the four days managed to recreate every memorable scene (and a few imaginary ones) that took place on Luke Skywalker's desert home world. Before leaving for the last time, I stopped into the official Celebration VI store to see what, if anything was left on the shelves. While there was no Hasbro exclusive figure this year, there were enough neat and unique collectives to put a dent in any Collector's pocket.
With that, Celebration VI came to an end for me. It was definitely the non-stop, fun-filled adventure I was expecting. It was great catching up with old friends and meeting a couple of new ones. Of the three Celebrations I have attended, Orlando was definitely the best fit. The Convention center was the perfect size and everything was spread out just enough so there was not much crowding but at the same time you were not walking all over the building to get from one area to the next. Here's hoping CVII will also be located in the Orlando area.
Thanks to everyone who made it such a special event for me and thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this review.
Scruffy signing out.