Ah, Star Wars Celebration VI. You were my second Celebration and while everything felt familiar, everything was all new and exciting again at the same time. As always it was just awesome seeing our team again as well as meeting some of our newest members, all of which turned out to be fantastic guys.
I Landed in Orlando on Wednesday around noon and met up with Grahame Wright and Dustin Roberts at the airport before heading straight over to the convention center for a day of setting up. It was handshakes and hugs all around when we arrived, but soon after we were setting up banners and stuffing I donít know how many sets of ForceCast trading cards. While a bit of a monotonous task, it was simply nice hanging out with and getting to know Adam Lamping and Anthony Pomposello. Those two guys crack me up and are great new additions to the team. Big thanks to Josh Stolte for also stopping by and helping out while he could. Itís always great to see Josh and heís just one of those genuinely nice guys who you canít help but be proud to have within the fandom community. We did a little walking around to check out the exhibit hall but then ultimately moseyed over to the hotel to check in, clean up, and then head over to The Pub for a little unofficial ForceCast fan mixer. I was beyond exhausted so admittedly, I got a bite to eat and then headed to bed early in anticipation of a big day on Thursday. At CV I donít think I ever went to bed before 2:30 so Iím either maturing or am getting lame as I get older.
On Thursday, the convention officially began and so did the craziness that wouldnít cease until I landed back home on Monday. My highlights from the convention were numerous and, as I did following CV, Iím just going to list them in no particular orderÖ
- First up, my brother-in-law Chris, his girlfriend, and my niece and nephew not only made the trip but also stayed in the same hotel as us. Once again, it was awesome to spend some time walking the convention floor with them. Itís always funny when Iím the one dragging the kids into pictures with me and costumed characters. I donít care how old I am, I simply enjoy pictures with Mara Jade, Plo Koon, troopers and so forth. Big thanks to Chris for inviting me to join him and his son in their Froggy Picture with Ian McDiarmid. We got all of 30 seconds with the Emperor but he told me I could scoot in closer to him in the picture. I was as giddy as a school girl.
- I got to see Kevin Smith live! This was one of those bucket list items for me as I grew up loving Kevin Smithís writing. Iíve already provided a write-up from that event but it truly was everything I had hoped it would be.
- TheForce.net Party - Always a good time. It has more of a relaxed feel than some parties which makes it easy to catch up with old friends without having to completely yell over the music. Also my brother-in-law was hilarious in his dedication to checking on our raffle tickets and I accidentally dropped the chicken finger tongs in the barbecue sauce. Sorry to all who got sticky fingers afterwards. Iíve never claimed to be graceful.
- I got to meet my Japanese veggie caring friend Oki for the first time. Weíve corresponded for years now and it was just great to not only see Oki conduct his panel but also get to stop by his booth and meet his friends in the Japan Jedi Order. Heís just about the nicest guy on the planet and I hope to see him again whenever CVII rolls around.
- My favorite pick-up at CVI without a doubt is the Dark Empire poster from Matt Busch. I adore that comic and he captured the feel perfectly in poster form. I canít wait to get it framed!
- I got to see The Maker! I hadnít hit up any of the Clone Wars panels prior to Saturday morning as Eric was covering those. I also skipped the Season 5 premiere screening as I couldnít watch the episode before my 6 year old son. Itís kind of our thing. But when I got to the convention on Saturday morning, I couldnít resist stopping by The Clone Wars Season 5 panel, if for nothing else, just to enjoy a panel without having to cover it. Eric, Grahame, and Kyle Newman happened to have an extra seat in the second row right in front of the Digital Stage. I ran up there and then proceeded to have my mind blown when the Notorious GL came out to say hello. What made it even more special was that my brother-in-law and my nephew managed to get into the panel as well. It was great knowing they got to see George as well considering my nephew, Lucas, is named after him.
- Smugglers Gambit Ė What a wonderfully unique panel experience! Kyle Newmanís and F.J. Desantoís story was fantastic and felt like Star Wars from the beginning to the end. The voice actors did a great job and looked like they were having a blast performing. The audience fed off those vibes and the atmosphere was electric. David Collins stole the show and his Harrison Ford impersonation needs to end up on some sort of weekly show or video game. He just nails it and it comes across as effortless. I must also tip my hat to the ForceCastís Jimmy Mac for expertly providing the audio atmosphere to the radio drama through music and sound effects. I think every member of our team looked on him with a feeling of pride during that performance. He clearly demonstrated he deserved to be up on that stage with the other actors and we can only hope that the experience was more enjoyable than stressful or him.
- Skateboarding? I accidentally left me cell phone back at our booth on one of the evenings. I didnít feel like making the long walk back to the convention center so I promptly asked Dustin Roberts for his skateboard in order to get there faster. About 3 minutes into my journey, I realized I hadnít ridden a skateboard in probably 15 yearsÖand I wasnít good at it then! It was a perilous journey and Iím happy to report I didnít fall once. Iím also happy to report that riding through the exhibit hall after hours was officially awesome.
- The 501st Bash Ė It was my first time going and if I have my way, I wonít miss it again! Good times, good drinks, good friends, loud music, flashing lights, a life-size Jabba, Han in CarboniteÖWonít miss it again! Many thanks to the 501st for a fantastic evening.
- The CVI Merchandise Photo Shoot Ė If you had a chuckle checking out some of the pictures, we had tears running down our faces while discussing some of the poses. And there were some great shots that didnít even end up in the final gallery. (Adam posing in his pink Princess shirt being just one of them) At the end of the day, itís not so much about the gallery itself as it was nice to simply hang out with some of our team back in our booth area. More so than at CV, our team was running in all different directions while fulfilling obligations and while trying not to miss anything. The times that we all did get to hang out, such as when we were doing the photo shoot, were an absolute blast.
- The Rosen Centre Buffet Tour of 2012 Ė It was lovely spending a couple dinners with Team Wyman as we compared and contrasted the varying buffets between the Rosen Centre and the Rosen Plaza. While one had better side dishes, the other didnít run out of soft serve ice cream. As I stated to Chris via e-mail, dinner with the Wymans has now become a Celebration tradition for me. I say at CVII we hit up a nice Sizzler!
- Star Wars in 3D Ė Eric, Grahame and I stopped by one of The Future of Star Wars in 3D panels and the scenes we saw from Attack of the Clones looked amazing. I was excited and weirdly disappointed that AOTC and ROTS with be coming out so close to each other. My sons and I were already on an Episode II black-out until we re-see it again in the theater. Iím not sure how weíre going to handle not being able to watch two of the six films for the next year. However, weíre dedicated to our geekdom so weíll forge ahead while getting nicely reacquainted with the OT and TPM.
Thank you to Philip Wise for all he has done and continues to do for our sites and fandom in general. Thanks to our team for their dedication and continuing volunteer efforts. As Iíve stated before, Iím proud to be a part of the team and meeting up with you guys is truly a highlight of the whole Celebration experience. Star Wars Celebration VII canít come soon enough especially since I will have my wife and 2 little boys with me for at least one of the days. Thatís going to take the Celebration experience to a whole new level. To folks like Aaron, Joel, Mark, Justin and others that I only got to hang out with for a bit: It was great seeing you and itís too bad it will be another couple years before we see each other again. Until then, May the Force be with us all!